Pūtaiao Issue 3, August 2020
COVID, carbon and regen ag. Research highlights from a changing world
Tēnā koe and welcome to the third issue of Pūtaiao (‘science’ in te reo Māori), our quarterly publication showcasing the work of our scientists at Manaaki Whenua.
We are the Crown Research Institute for our land environment, biosecurity, and biodiversity, and our role and responsibility to New Zealand are clear: this land, and everything that shares it with us, is our future.
Each issue of Pūtaiao will share the benefits and impacts of our science in helping ensure a sustainable, productive future for New Zealand. In this issue many of the stories focus on science for our environment – one of our four science ambitions at Manaaki Whenua.
The work we do in this area is increasingly designed to support policymakers, Māori, business and community groups to make decisions on the future uses of our environment, locally, regionally and nationally. To make real progress in environmental management we need reliable data and indicators, decision-making processes that account for complexity and uncertainty, and practical action. We must also balance the needs of multiple stakeholders, including national and local government, the private sector, Māori, and local communities, in making these decisions.
In this issue
Tracking climate change awareness among rural decision-makers
Over the coming decades, changes in climate are likely to have serious effects on New Zealand’s productive land environments. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects a 0.8°C increase in temperature by 2040 for New Zealand, as well as more extreme rainfall events and increased drought severity.
Regenerative agriculture: does the science stack up?
Regenerative agriculture, a term first coined in the 1970s, applies an adaptive ecological approach to agricultural landscape management, with a focus on ecosystem health.
A new national soil carbon monitoring system for agricultural land
Every year, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, New Zealand is obliged to report its national human-produced (anthropogenic) greenhouse gas emissions and removals. With average soil carbon stocks in New Zealand’s agricultural soils estimated at about 100 tonnes per hectare in the top 30 cm, changes in soil carbon could make a significant contribution to our national carbon footprint.
Biotic interactions drive ecosystem responses to exotic plant invaders
Introductions of exotic plants are transforming ecosystems worldwide and altering the ways in which they cycle carbon, but the various mechanisms driving these changes are not well understood.
Virtual reality experience showcases prehistoric, present and future New Zealand environments
Taking a virtual step back in time and experiencing untouched prehistoric, present and future New Zealand environments is soon going to be possible. A new, world-class virtual reality (VR) experience, beginning with likenesses of prehistoric Jurassic scenes, is being developed by Manaaki Whenua and Waxeye as a part of ‘Karanga o Tāne Mahuta – the VR experience’.
Our COVID-19 research
A view from the policy window; stochastic model for COVID-19 spread; effect of large-scale anti-contagion policies
The post-lockdown future of work
A constant in science is the need to interact with other scientists. New Zealand’s scientists maintain their credibility and skills by working with other science leaders, nationally and globally, and this cannot be done by staying at home. However, the COVID-19 lockdown has challenged our thinking about travel.
Decision-making in freshwater management – a social learning approach
Scientists have long-recognized that one of their biggest challenges is how to translate their recommendations into lasting management and behaviour changes among stakeholders. Individuals or people working in organisations may not be able to make changes easily, owing to a combination of norms and institutional routines that they work within. After initial enthusiasm for change, these people can quickly become disillusioned if they feel they are “going it alone” when community commitment to change is actually essential.
National environmental reporting – our science behind the headline reports
The recent increase in environmental regulations in New Zealand, including the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (2013, 2017, 2019) and the recent National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land, is increasing demand for monitoring and assessing the impacts of land use on our resources. The Environmental Reporting Act 2015 also requires the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) to report on the state of New Zealand’s environment once every 4 years, with domain reports for air, land, freshwater, marine and climate every 6 months.
Celebrating our achievements
Listening to the voices of our environment
Te Urewera is a remote, rugged area of hill country in the North Island, and is central to the wellbeing of Ngāi Tūhoe. From 1954 until 2014 much of Te Urewera was designated a National Park. At this point something extraordinary occurred: Te Urewera achieved legal personification under the Te Urewera Act 2014.
Getting outdoors and counting birds
The New Zealand Garden Bird Survey is one of New Zealand’s longest running citizen science projects, engaging the public in biodiversity and conservation issues.