We are very excited to announce that we have reached our first birthday! This time last year the whole team got together for the first time and went out to a sheep and beef farm to smooth out the finer details of the project. We are the youngest Biological Heritage project but we’ve made great progress over the past year and can’t wait for the second field season to begin. A massive thank you to our Farming & Nature Conservation whānau for your current and future support and collaboration.
This month we have been extending our connections into the sheep and beef community, with a hui involving Beef + Lamb NZ, farmers, iwi and a few of our scientists. The aim of the meeting was to discuss ideas for a Beef + Lamb biodiversity extension programme.
Beef + Lamb wants to see all 12,500 sheep and beef farmers have a biodiversity component to their Land Environment Plan by 2021. This kaupapa (initiative) aligns perfectly with our project goals and we’re really excited to help them achieve their target.
During the meeting we laid the foundations for a biodiversity framework. This included discussion of how farmers currently view biodiversity, incentives and obstacles to managing it on their land, and how to best get information about biodiversity to rural communities. We currently have a student compiling a list of all the resources available to farmers, so we can see what works and where the gaps might be. When this is complete we will make it available on our brand-new website, which is also in the process of being created.
The new National Policy Statement (NPS) on indigenous biodiversity was also a talking point during the hui. NPS documents are created by the government under the Resource Management Act and serve as guidelines on nationally significant issues. Current NPSs include Freshwater Management, Renewable Electricity Generation and Urban Development Capacity. A draft NPS for indigenous biodiversity has just been released by the Biodiversity Collaborative Group as a recommendation to the government. It’s exciting that this issue is being recognised at this level but, being the first public draft, the document has a long way to go before any policy changes come from it. If you’d like to take a look you can download the pdf here.
Getting away from official documents and out of the office, today also marks the start of our summer field work!
This year’s sampling will involve a larger focus on carbon sequestration and its intimate link to on-farm biodiversity. The recce plot sampling Tim and Sophie started during winter on our Kaipara farm will be continued and expanded to our other two study farms. Some of the sampling from last year, like five-minute bird counts, will also be repeated over the summer so we can compare the results across years.
As the world gets hotter, vegetation flammability is becoming an increasing concern for those in dry areas. It’s great if farmers want to increase the biodiversity and carbon sequestration on their farm, but if the chosen tree species increase the flammability of the land then it could have disastrous consequences. The plant flammability team aim to make well-informed recommendations about which species are best to plant in different areas, to decrease the chances of wildfires.
Kia ora rawa atu,
The Farming & Nature Conservation team:
Hannah Buckley, David Norton, Brad Case, Margaret Stanley, Jennifer Pannell, Valance Smith, Estelle Dominati, Margaret Brown, Fleur Maseyk and Stacey Bryan