We would like to extend a warm welcome to all of you as our Farming & Nature Conservation community. This project is a collaboration between biological scientists, social scientists, iwi, farmers, sector groups, NGOs and local communities throughout the country, all of whom are invaluable in helping us achieve our goals of understanding more about native biodiversity in agroecosystems.
We are excited to report that the project is well underway and already gaining great insight into biodiversity on sheep and beef farms in Aotearoa. In July, we had a meeting with representatives from Beef + Lamb New Zealand where we discussed what the drivers and obstacles are for farmers protecting and enhancing native biodiversity on their land. They were also interested in how best to include biodiversity conservation in farm management plans, as well as figuring out what biodiversity is there to begin with, and how this might be changing over time.
Our stakeholders’ workshop in August brought together representatives from QEII National Trust, NZ Landcare Trust, Ministry for the Environment, Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, regional councils (Hawkes Bay and Bay of Plenty) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. It was great to have such a wide variety of interested parties in the room and the discussion ranged far and wide: from QEII covenants, to farmer-community links, to the methods of obtaining the data we will need to put into our farming models as our project develops.
The research team got together in November and after countless coffees and discussions around tables, headed out into the field to look at an "example farm". This was to see exactly what, and how, we would be sampling in the field. It's was great to sort out some of the practical details of the upcoming field work and create a list of all the different information we will be gathering. We then confirmed one study farm in north Canterbury, one in the Ruapehu district and we're currently waiting on confirmation for a farm north of Auckland. Having such a wide spread of farms across the country should mean that our results and recommendations will be applicable to most New Zealand sheep and beef farms.
We are really excited about developing the project through into 2018. If you’d like more detailed or regular updates on what we get up to over the next couple of years, head on over to our page on the Biological Heritage website, or our facebook and twitter pages.
Kia ora rawa atu and Merry Christmas,
The Farming & Nature Conservation team