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July newsletter: expanding our whānau, survey results and more

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

Tēnā koutou,

The last couple of months have been all about expanding the Farming & Nature Conservation project, with lots of work going on within our spin-off projects.

Living Laboratory project update

In early May the whole FNC team met with representatives from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to formally start our Living Laboratory project at Bastion Point.

Pourewa Reserve is a piece of land on the southern side of Bastion point that was leased to a pony club for the last thirty years. Now that the lease has run out, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei is keen to ‘re-cloak’ the whenua in native bush.

This site is unique, not only because it’s in the middle of Auckland city, but because we will be co-designing the plots with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei whānau and staff. You can learn more about the history of the site here.

Jeff Silby is excited about his new role as manager of the FNC Living Laboratory project

To manage our Living Laboratory sites we have just hired a dedicated project manager – Jeff Silby.

Jeff will be organising getting the Living Lab trees planted and collecting data from the experiment. He will be our liaison with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, co-designing the project with them.

Prior to this role Jeff worked in high school science education as a biology teacher, most recently in Auckland and before that in rural Australia. While he was in Australia he worked with community groups and students to restore native habitats.

Farming with Biodiversity website update

Otherwise known as our biodiversity extension project, work is now well underway on the creation of this new website. Our aim is to provide farmers and rural communities with all the information they want or need about how to manage, protect and restore biodiversity on their land.

To do this we’re using a range of media such as animations, graphics, text and video interviews with farmers who have been there, done that. Last week Stacey and Adam were in Kaikoura talking to Nicky McArthur about how she manages stock, bees, carbon, deer, tourism and native bush on her farm Puhi Peaks.

With such a complicated enterprise they had a lot to talk about! The views were unlike anything our team had seen before, so it was the perfect place to start our farmer interviews.

Stay tuned for more on this project in the future, and if you’re a farmer with a great biodiversity story to share please get in touch! You can email

From left: Dr Adam Forbes, Puhi Peaks operations manager James Kilgour and owner/manager Nicky McArthur

What farmers think – phone survey results

Earlier this year we conducted a phone survey of sheep and beef farmers using Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s database. We were stoked that 500 farmers were happy to take part and answer questions about how they managed and viewed biodiversity on their farm.

The results are still being processed by social scientists, but we can share with you some high-level statistics that came out of the survey . . .

Crazy & Ambitious 2 – BioHeritage conference

At the end of May around 300 people attended Crazy & Ambitious 2 – the second conference for New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge. The event went across two days and involved keynote speakers, quick-fire research updates, and expert panels that discussed the hard-hitting topics.

Brad Case gave a quick-fire update on FNC research and project co-lead David Norton was part of a panel that discussed Aotearoa’s restoration trajectory. You can find these videos and more resources from our project on the resources page of our website.

Ngā mihi,

The Farming & Nature Conservation team:

Hannah Buckley, David Norton, Brad Case, Margaret Stanley, Jennifer Pannell, Valance Smith, Estelle Dominati, Margaret Brown, Fleur Maseyk, Stacey Bryan, Tan Gillman, Leilani Walker, Adam Forbes and Jeff Silby.

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