Scion a winner in the 2018 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards

14 November 2018

Scion took home the New Zealand Biosecurity Biological Heritage Challenge Science Award. Our entry - ‘Protecting New Zealand's primary sector from plant pests; a toolkit for the urban battlefield’ – is about developing novel approaches to increase the effectiveness of eradication programmes for insect pests of plants.

Programme Leader Dr Tara Strand said “Scion and the greater research team, consisting of CRIs, universities, and private business, are thrilled be recognised for their work with the Biological Heritage Science Award. The team went up against amazing people and we are truly honoured. This is great acknowledgement for the strong partnership we have formed between scientists, policy makers and people responsible for managing the biosecurity process, exemplifying Biosecurity 2025 goals.  The win is also a testament to strong Vision Mātauranga and the inclusion and mix of social, biological and engineering sciences in the research.
“Biosecurity is one of the many things protecting New Zealand’s economic spine, the primary sector, as well as our native species in New Zealand terra and aqua environments. In this fast-moving world of people and items, biosecurity is necessary to keep our unique species and to protect our economy from phytosanitary sanctions. We are delighted our programme gave results that will help achieve our country’s biosecurity goals and we thank the committee for selecting us.”

Key elements of the programme include:
  • Faster and more accurate identification of new pests. An exciting development is a world first tiny, lightweight mobile electroantennogram – an insect antenna combined with an electric circuit that senses miniscule quantities of insect pheromones. This was implemented on an unmanned aerial vehicle for rapid and widespread scanning of areas where insect pests may have spread.
  • More effective methods of eradicating pests once they are found in New Zealand including significantly advanced targeted pesticide spraying tools, increasing efficacy and reducing amounts of spraying required, and developing a new fragmentation eradication model.
  • Ensuring social licence so that eradication programmes can be rapidly implemented when pests are found. With Scion's Programme Steering Group from central and local government, primary producers and Māori, Scion has co-developed and tested tools that increase government-community engagement in eradication programmes.
These awards recognise and celebrate outstanding contributions to protecting our country. They are an Ministry for Primary Industries’ initiative to celebrate people and organisations across the country who are contributing to New Zealand's biosecurity – in communities, businesses, iwi and hapū, government, in the bush, and in our backyards.
Learn more about this urban battlefield project in ‘Scion Connections’

About the 2018 Biosecurity Awards