Government funding for Scion research programmes

4 September 2015

Scion has been successful in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s 2015 Science Investment Round with two research proposals selected for funding.

One proposal addresses plant pest eradication and the other focuses on decision-making for complex environmental problems.

The proposal “Protecting New Zealand’s primary sector from plant pests; a toolkit for the urban battlefield” was awarded $3.75 million over 3 years. The research programme will be led by Dr Tara Strand, a research leader in Scion’s Forest Protection Team.

The programme will provide an integrated package of tools that address both the technical and social issues confronting agencies responsible for implementing or contributing to pest eradication programmes. At the same time the research will give primary sectors more efficient methods to manage already-established-pests. A spill over benefit is improved protection of the conservation estate. This work will put New Zealand at the forefront of international pest eradication research.

The programme will address three key requirements for effective eradication of pests before they become established: early detection, finding alternatives to broadcast aerial spraying in urban areas, and involving residents in all aspects of eradication.

Successful too, was the proposal “Weaving the Korowai of Papatūānuku - Adaptive governance and supported environmental decision making”. This proposal was awarded $2.4 million over 3 years and will be led by Tim Barnard, an environmental planner in Scion’s Forest Systems Team.

The research programme will create a new approach to governance and decision-making for communities facing complex environmental problems.

If New Zealand is to overcome the many environmental challenges it faces, then agencies must learn to adapt to complexity and create new governance ‘landscapes’ that reflect local aspirations, livelihoods and resources. The aim of the programme is to develop a systems and adaptive governance approach to decision making. This approach will be applicable to any context in New Zealand where multiple agencies and communities are wrestling with complexity, especially where there are limited resources or a lack of clarity over desired outcomes.

Both research programmes are set to start on 1 October 2015.