There is a game-changing tool on the way in the war against kauri dieback disease which is having a devastating effect on New Zealand’s native forests.
Thanks to the 2016 WWF-New Zealand Conservation Innovation Awards, sustainable land management group Groundtruth is developing a Stop Kauri Dieback app that will support community engagement and management of kauri dieback. The fungus-like disease with no known cure is killing kauri forests in Northland, and kauri could become extinct in some locations without urgent action.
“The Conservation Innovation Awards celebrate Kiwi innovators whose bright ideas, like the Stop Kauri Dieback app, look set to make a real difference in the fight to protect our precious ecosystems and native species,” said Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer. “We welcome big, bold, game-changing ideas, because conservation innovation is imperative.”
Peter Handford and Daniel Bar-Even are behind the Stop Kauri Dieback app which is being developed in discussion with organisations fighting to save kauri.
“Kauri dieback disease is having a devastating effect on the giants of our forest,” Groundtruth Director, Peter Handford said. “In the past 10 years, kauri dieback has killed thousands of kauri.
“To save kauri, it is critical to discover where outbreaks are occurring as soon as possible and provide people with simple steps they can take to avoid spreading the disease.”
Mr Handford said the app would support all forest visitors, trampers, walkers and conservation volunteers to identify and record possible sightings – and take simple steps to avoid spreading it – like washing their boots or staying away from the area.
Mr Handford said winning the 2016 Conservation Innovation Award had made a big difference to this project, providing a combination of credibility and collaboration.
“The Awards is a highly productive space with different individuals and organisations working together,” he said. “The Awards help break down silos and promote collaborative work around innovation.”
The 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards is now deciding on the next environmental game-changers. There were 47 entries logged from Kiwis across the country. On October 16, 35 finalists were announced, including from the Far North, Auckland, Raglan, Hamilton, East Coast, Waikanae, Martinborough, Palmerston North, Whanganui, Wellington, Upper Hutt, Dunedin, Nelson and Christchurch.
A panel of independent experts is in the process of judging the final winners, based on the quality of the idea against the awards criteria, the feedback and votes from the online community, and their relevance to the three categories (Engaging young people and communities; Predator Free New Zealand 2050; and an Open Category). Winners will be announced at the Awards ceremony in Wellington on 22 November.
The 2017 Awards are supported by The Tindall Foundation, Department of Conservation, Callaghan Innovation, Predator Free 2050 Ltd and New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge. For information about the Awards, past winners and how to enter, visit www.wwf.org.nz/innovation