On a mission to save iconic trees

28 December 2022

Within ‘New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge’ is a research programme called Ngā Rākau Taketake – Saving our iconic trees from kauri dieback and myrtle rust.

A handful of Scion scientists are involved in the programme joining many others from various organisations and groups on their collaborative mission to protect our treasured species from disease. Among those is Scion social scientist Simon Wegner who co-leads one of the research themes in the Ngā Rākau Taketake programme.

The Risk Assessment and Ecosystem Impacts theme seeks to understand the ecosystems at risk and the impacts of diseases to support mana whenua, communities, agencies and other researchers to prioritise their efforts and make better management decisions.

With co-leader Dr Luitgard Schwendenmann from the University of Auckland, the team has taken a holistic view of ecosystems. This view recognises that harm to kauri and myrtle species will have substantial consequences for associated species, for wider ecosystem functions and for the people who interact with and value these ecosystems for social, cultural and economic reasons.

Because there are significant gaps in knowledge, and many impacts will take decades to become apparent, Simon says the focus is on characterising kauri and myrtle ecosystems, identifying what is at risk and establishing baselines against which to measure long-term change.

Scion is one of many contributors to the programme, and everyone involved feels very privileged to be part of it.

Read more: https://tinyurl.com/2cjb5yc8