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$75,000 Awarded to Conservation Innovators

$75,000 Awarded to Conservation Innovators


Using drone trackers for wildlife research, monitoring health of waterways and developing an app to help Kauri conservation – these are the winning ideas of WWF’s 2016 Conservation Innovation Awards, announced today.

The Kiwi innovators behind these ideas will each be awarded a $25,000 grant to recognise their contribution to innovation in conservation. The three winners will be congratulated at an event in Wellington tonight, MCed by journalist and public speaker, Rod Oram, and with Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of Science and Innovation, as the keynote speaker.

The winning ideas are:

DroneCounts
DroneCounts wants to take wildlife tracking to the next level, with a model that can pick up several signals and map wildlife in an area. The men behind the invention are Auckland-based John Sumich (Ark in the Park and Habitat Te Henga) and Philip Solaris (X-craft). “This award will open opportunities to enable our innovation to assist the urgent fight to stem the tragic loss of species, both locally and globally,” Mr Solaris said. “A prototype has already been deployed that is capable of detecting multiple transmitter signals, on differing frequencies, which to our knowledge is a world first. The aim now is to increase the autonomy of the aircraft, enabling it to track, locate and record these signals in the most efficient way without the need of human intervention”.

River Watch Water Testing Device
Water quality is really important to many Kiwis. This device will give community members the opportunity to take action and monitor the water quality in their local rivers, giving real time data on the health of the waterways. The River Watch Water Tester has been developed by Water Action Initiative (WAI) NZ in collaboration with students from Victoria University of Wellington's School of Engineering and Computer Science. This simple floating device helps determine the health of New Zealand’s waterways by measuring temperature, conductivity, turbidity and pH levels. The River Watch water device logs data over a 48-hour period, is simple to operate, portable and inexpensive. Behind the initiative is South Wairarapa farmer Grant Muir and his son James Muir. Grant Muir said “This award will allow for the nationwide roll out of the prototype and will have a major impact on the restoration of our fresh water for generations to come”.

Stop Kauri Dieback – helping to save our Kauri
Kauri dieback disease is having a devastating effect on the giants of our forest, and there is no known cure. It is critical that we know where outbreaks are occurring as soon as possible. Peter Handford and Daniel Bar-Even from Groundtruth are developing an app which will allow people to record and map dieback sightings, so they can take simple steps to avoid spreading it – like washing their boots or staying away from the area. Peter Handford said “Stop Kauri Dieback will enable all forest visitors, trampers, walkers and conservation volunteers to record sightings of the deadly disease kauri dieback. This will help those fighting kauri dieback to gain a better picture of the impact this disease is having, and where to focus their attention to combat the disease”.

WWF’s Conservation Innovation Awards, supported by The Tindall Foundation, celebrate innovation and collaboration, with the aim to find and support the best innovative ideas for conservation from talented and passionate Kiwis.

WWF’s Head of New Zealand Projects, Michele Frank, said the entries submitted to this year’s awards were inspirational.

“These awards are an exciting collaboration between people who are all passionate about improving the natural environment. Using a crowdsourcing website, entrants posted their ideas publicly, joined discussions with site visitors and then adapted their ideas in response to comments,” Ms Frank said.

“We are proud to be celebrating our winners for being at the forefront of conservation thinking and committed to developing ideas that look set to change the game. By harnessing creativity like this we can bring better tools to the community volunteer army and better protect our wildlife, sooner.”

This year there were 41 entries from across the country including Kaipara Harbour, Thames, Paekakairki, Christchurch, Golden Bay, Motueka, Katikati, Stewart Island, Marlborough Sounds, Te Puke, Martinborough, Motueka, Nelson, and Rotorua.

An independent judging panel looked for new ideas that had practical application and could benefit grass roots conservation groups. 2016 judges included: Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Matthew Monahan (Kiwi Connect); Head of Industrial Design & Innovation at Auckland University of Technology, Shane Inder; environmental research champion, Justine Daw (General-Manager of Landcare Research); and conservation visionary and Director of Project Janszoon, Devon McLean.

ends

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