Partnerships & collaborations
Canterbury farmer Tim Chamberlain (left) talking with Landcare Research biocontrol experts Hugh Gourlay and Helen Parish
A key priority for the year was to deepen strategic partnerships with central and local government, and sector–funded agencies such as the Animal Health Board (AHB). We meet regularly with chief executives and operational staff of these agencies to ensure our science is aligned to their needs.
For each of the last three years we have commissioned an independent survey of a customer segment to assess their perceptions of our performance. Participants this year rated us as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ in regard to overall performance (70% of respondents), relationship management (81%), quality of our research work (88%), and staff professionalism (91%). We also welcomed their feedback regarding where we could improve our performance.
Collaborations with other research providers
We undertake extensive formal collaboration with other research providers in New Zealand and most of our research programmes include valuable collaboration with overseas peers. This signifi cantly extends our research capability and creates opportunities to provide postgraduate students with research experience. We are partners in several collaborative research centres with universities:
- The New Zealand Climate Change Centre (NZCCC) with Victoria University of Wellington, University of Canterbury, and all the CRIs.
- The Centre for Biodiversity and Biosecurity (CBB) with the University of Auckland
- The Centre for Urban Ecosystem Sustainability (CUES) with the University of Auckland
- The New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities with University of Otago and five other partners
- The New Zealand Centre for Ecological Economics (NZCEE) with Massey University
In addition, we are members of several consortia:
- The KiwImage consortium – a multi–agency, five–year programme of investment to acquire new higher resolution, multi–purpose satellite imagery for all of New Zealand and its subantarctic islands.
- The newly established Regional Councils’ Biodiversity Forum, which decides regional council priorities for biodiversity research.
- The Sustainable Land Use Research Initiative (SLURI) pools soil science expertise across three CRIs to develop new tools for regulators and land managers (failure to sustain our soil and water resources will put $2.16 billion of our total GDP at risk).
- Integrated Research for Aquifer Protection (IRAP) involves four CRIs, DairyNZ, Lincoln Environmental, Aqualinc and Environment Canterbury. The focus is on developing agriculture and rural economies while ensuring water remains clean, available and contaminant–free. The enduser advisory group includes regional and district councils, MAF, MfE, FAR, HortNZ, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, and Federated Farmers.
- NzOnet is a network of nitrous oxide researchers from four CRIs, Lincoln University and DairyNZ.
At a practical science level, we seconded staff to AHB (to assist in developing operational procedures and the design and running of several trials), Environment Waikato (to engage with individuals and groups of staff to progress key elements of the Creating Futures project) and Environment Canterbury (to provide a critical overview of ECan’s soil, land and water datasets, how these could be better integrated, and what tools are available or could be developed to make better use of the data in understanding the effects of land use change).
Staff at our larger sites are located alongside or nearby staff from client agencies, other CRIs and/or universities. This fosters close collaboration, facilitates sharing of expensive equipment, and provides opportunities for our staff to lecture on specialist topics and supervise students. We are pleased that DOC’s Hamilton–based research staff co–located with us from March this year.
Landcare Research leads three Outcome–Based Investment programmes (OBIs) that are supported by strong formal partnerships with end–user organisations. These are ‘Defining New Zealand’s Land Biota’, ‘Sustaining and Restoring Biodiversity’ and ‘Ecosystem Resilience’. Our OBIs were very favourably reviewed this year, with special attention drawn to the strength of the partnership model that allows them to contribute so strongly to policy and management outcomes. Partner organisations include DOC, MAF, MAF BNZ, Te Papa, the Tūhoe Tuawhenua Trust, ERMA, Queen Elizabeth II Trust, and the Regional Councils’ Biodiversity Forum.
Biological control of weeds
Our Biological Control of Weeds programme exemplifies best practice in partnering directly with end–users. New Zealand has an escalating weed problem. Even widely entrenched weeds (such as broom) have not yet reached the full potential extent of their range, costing many millions of dollars in lost production and widespread ongoing herbicide use. For these ‘out–of–control’ weeds, biocontrol is a cost effective, low–impact alternative, and a practical long–term solution. We are one of the most successful organisations globally in introducing and establishing new biocontrol agents on a wide range of weeds. We work closely with overseas counterparts to locate and extensively test potential agents before importing any into quarantine. New Zealand stakeholders are consulted before any agents are approved for release. Then we mass–rear, distribute and later monitor establishment and impact of the agents with support from regional councils, DOC, farming groups and others. A large measure of our ongoing success is due to the funding and direct involvement of these end–users. Over the last five years, 18 species of biocontrol agents have been released, including eight this year.