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Inaugural funding for environment research

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Inaugural funding for environment research

Three University of Auckland-based environmental research projects have been awarded funding of more than $1 million from the new George Mason Centre for the Natural Environment.

Three University of Auckland-based environmental research projects have been awarded funding of more than $1 million from the new George Mason Centre for the Natural Environment.

The newly-established Centre, based at the University of Auckland, aims to build research connections and collaboration across the University in natural environment research.

Its focus is on protection and conservation of New Zealand’s wildlife and natural land and seascapes by producing new, independent research on restoration of species, habitat and ecosystems.

The funding is made possible through a $5 million donation through the University of Auckland Campaign For All Our Futures. The landmark gift was from alumnus Dr George Mason, of Taranaki, who has made contributions to New Zealand’s science community.

“The Centre takes a systems approach to the many environmental challenges we face with a particular focus on understanding how resilience in a wide range of ecosystems can be used to counteract adverse environmental change,” says University of Auckland Dean of Science Professor John Hosking.

“The generous donation from the George Mason Trust allows us to do research not previously possible and we are delighted to announce the inaugural funding round has attracted such high quality research proposals.”

Newly-funded projects include studying the impact of microplastics and associated chemicals that leach from plastic products and which lead to build-up of plastic waste in fresh water and marine systems.

The project will investigate how bacteria that feeds off degraded plastics can be tracked as they journey down waterways into the ocean using the inner Hauraki Gulf as a model system.

Funding has also been given to a project looking at sediment and nutrient loads in freshwater and coastal ecosystems to provide new research for community-led projects in coastal ecosystem restoration with a focus on shellfish.

This project has also received an additional grant of $150,000 from Foundation North’s Gulf Innovation Fund Together (G.I.F.T.) which has established links with the George Mason Centre for the Natural Environment.

The third project to receive funding looks at developing science-based media products for print, online and broadcast to improve scientific understanding of sustainable policy solutions for ecosystems, beginning with marine ecosystems.

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