What do people think about protecting and restoring New Zealand’s biodiversity? To find out, we invited New Zealanders to engage with each other on this topic as citizens using Scoop’s public engagement platform, HiveMind.
The HiveMind report Protecting and Restoring New Zealand’s Biodiversity, published today, analyses and summarises the findings of this engagement in which over 500 Kiwis took part.
HiveMind is designed to enable citizens to safely exchange and consider ideas and proposals about a public issue with other citizens, with authorities, experts, organisations and with Scoop’s journalists and editors. It is designed to highlight both areas of difference and of common ground and allows participants to shape the discussion.
It appears from the findings that despite a diverse range of participants and perspectives, there are significant areas of common ground amongst participants on the future actions and elements that a National Biodiversity Strategy should include. This common ground is particularly encouraging at a time when politics in New Zealand and around the world is often so polarised that progress seems impossible.
Two groups with some differing opinions
Two opinion groups emerged from consistent differences in voting patterns across multiple statements in the HiveMind.
While both groups included younger, middle-aged and older people from both urban and rural areas, the 72 people in Group A tended to be older and from rural areas whereas the 371 people in Group B tended to be more middle-aged and from the city.
Areas of Difference
Some of the main divisions between the two opinions groups were about:
not biodiversity is in crisis and whether more resources are
needed to adequately manage it
The relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous biodiversity, and the desirability and feasibility of prioritising indigenous biodiversity
The management of browsing game animals such as deer that are valued for hunting and as a source of food.
Areas of Common
Despite some fundamental differences of opinion about whether there even is a biodiversity crisis and about whether a biodiversity strategy should prioritise indigenous biodiversity, there were many areas of common ground on key issues. Below are some of the areas on which over 70% of respondents in both opinion groups were in agreement over statements:
Biodiversity is essential
for our health and
“Our physical and mental health and prosperity depends on our natural environment” (85% agreed)
“Instead of focusing on protecting flagship species, we should focus on protecting entire ecosystems, which may include those species.” (75% agreed)
Biodiversity in urban areas is
“We should innovate to become more inclusive of nature and biodiversity in our city/town designs.” (90% agreed)
“Education standards should require educational field trips to natural spaces for all school children.” (80% agreed)
More places where biodiversity
are large amounts of land are in public ownership in NZ that
could be used to enhance biodiversity (e.g. roadside
reserves, schools)” (85% agreed)
“More no-take marine reserves should be created, especially in the habitat of endangered animals, like Maui dolphins and endangered seabirds” (85% agreed)
We need to
change to a more sustainable economic
a partnership between the agriculture industry and
government to develop and promote farming practices that
protect and restore our biodiversity” (85%
“We need to move rapidly towards farming practices that promote sustainable food production e.g. the use of locally produced food, using techniques such as permaculture, biodynamics, urban agriculture” (75% agreed)
“To protect and restore biodiversity and ecosystem services we must move away from a fixation on economic growth and towards sustainable production and consumption” (70% agreed)
Environmental taxes and
“Ownership of water rights should not allow degradation of the resource. Stronger management, quality and quantity standards are needed.” (75% agreed)
More Details About the Biodiversity Hivemind
The HiveMind participation page was at: Scoop Hivemind: Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity and includes links to information resources to support participation and instructions for taking part in the process.
This information-rich environment includes full coverage of biodiversity published on Scoop, the formal Biodiversity Strategy discussion document, and in-depth independent journalism by top environmental journalists on the new Scoop platform The Dig.
HiveMind is powered by Pol.is, a new type of interactive survey technology that allows participants to consider statements about an issue, add their own statements for others to vote on, and to see how their opinions fit with other people’s views.
Pol.is a promising new digital platforms designed to enable mass public participation and has been used by a number of governments (e.g. Taiwan, Canada) and by major organisations (e.g. Columbia University). In Taiwan, Pol.is has been used as a major part of the policy development process for at least 6 laws.
We believe Scoop’s Pol.is-powered HiveMind process could usefully be used here in New Zealand to help authorities better understand issues and possible solutions from the perspective of citizens, particularly during the early stages of policy development.
The Biodiversity HiveMind closed on 22 September 2019. Participants were able to submit their own ideas and proposals for other participants to consider until 11 September.
Almost 100 people submitted around 250 statements and 536 people voted on at least one of the 154 statements that were moderated into the ‘discussion’. 443 people voted on enough statements for their voting patterns to be analysed.
Find Out More
For the full report with analysis and discussion please download the following PDF: http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1911/Biodiversity_HiveMind_Final_Report_Scoop.pdf
To access the raw datasets as anonymised open data files please contact Scoop Publishing on: firstname.lastname@example.org