Abstracts: Thursday 19 May 2016
THEME 1: Seizing the Future
KEYNOTE: Lou Sanson, Director General, Department of Conservation
Lou Sanson’s keynote address will focus on why New Zealanders are so strongly connected to nature and how we can use this affinity to build increased commitment and contribution to conservation. The reality that none of us can achieve our conservation objectives by working in isolation is reinforced by the Department’s seven ambitious stretch goals (targets to be achieved by 2025), all of which will require iwi, business, communities and the Government to work together.
KEYNOTE: James O'Connor, Birdlife Australia
Conservation in Australia
The history of environmental stewardship and conservation in Australia is one of waxing and waning federal participation and intervention. Traditionally the responsibility of the state governments, federal participation and intervention in environmental protection began in earnest in the late 1960s, and has developed into a national program which both partners the states and interacts directly with conservation and landcare groups, with investment peaking in the first decade of the twentieth century. More recently, federal participation in conservation of the environment has decreased markedly. This paper recaps the history of government participation, looks at some of the reasons for the fluctuations in federal investment, and discusses some strategies for meeting ongoing and future challenges in environmental stewardship in Australia.
Trudi Webster, Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust
The role of science in conservation
Science has a key role to play in improving conservation outcomes. However, for various reasons not all conservation managers embrace science and therefore some conservation projects may not be as effective as they could be. In this talk I will outline some of the ways in which scientists can work to improve uptake of their science and managers can be more open to scientific input. I illustrate the role that science has to play in conservation using the example of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust.
Kerry-Jayne Wilson, West Coast Penguin Trust & Euan Kennedy, Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust
Are we leaving leadership and professionalism behind in the rush to community-inspired conservation?
Conservation is a complex business. Until recently, NZ’s centrally governed and co-ordinated conservation model offered assurance of success and quality. In this world-leading model, the State took principal responsibility for conservation. The approach drew together professionals from the social and biological sciences, educationalists, and related disciplines. NZ was an audacious trail-blazer. Today the disabling financial restraints imposed on public-sector spending by market fundamentalism are driving NZ towards a new conservation model—a less effective Department of Conservation reliant on NGOs and community groups to take up shortfalls in capacity.
This new approach socialises conservation in some desirable ways, but predisposes it to loss of professionalism and leadership. Few community groups or national NGOs possess the mandates, resources or skills necessary. By way of example we will describe some poor conservation outcomes resulting from lay approaches. We discuss why professionalism and sound leadership are essential in this now dispersed conservation enterprise. We argue that DOC has the preeminent duty to provide leadership and set standards, but we question their current ability or readiness to do so. We suggest ways we might improve professionalism and leadership within the non-government sector.
Marie Brown, Environmental Defence Society
Vanishing nature: constructive solutions to a wicked problem
New Zealand’s biodiversity is unique, internationally renowned, and in decline due to fundamental drivers of loss. Vanishing Nature is a book released by EDS in 2015that argues that loss of nature is due to both market and regulatory failure, and this is made worse by a political focus on immediate benefits over long term debts. In order to protect, maintain and restore our natural heritage, strategic change is needed. This talk establishes the problem definition and provides a framework of solutions, including increased resourcing and coordination of community conservation, through to strategic changes that would both raise far more money for conservation and also reduce the degradation of nature in the first place.
THEME 2: Powering up through Cooperation
Carolyn Lewis, Weedbusters
Powering up through partnerships – QEII Community Weedbusting Project
Carolyn Lewis (Weedbusters), Genevieve Bannister (QEII National Trust) and Anne Brow (QEII Community Weedbusting Project).
Community interest, engagement, and requests for support for community weed control and restoration efforts, is steadily increasing throughout New Zealand. In the last few years, ongoing restructures and funding changes within DOC and regional councils has impacted on staff time, roles, capacity and capability, both nationally and in local areas, to support this growing community interest on the ground.
In 2015 QEII National Trust (a well-regarded legal entity working with private landowners to covenant key ecological sites) and Weedbusters (an interagency national weeds awareness and community engagement programme) joined forces to make a successful bid for funding through the DOC Community Conservation Fund to explore new ways to support community weedbusting efforts around the country.
This talk will showcase the evolving relationship between the QE II National Trust and Weedbusters as they approached the collaborative challenge of this new funding regime, and lessons learned along the way. It explores the community-based conservation gains that can be made through forging strong alliances where each partner and has different strengths and expertise to offer.
It will highlight the value of sharing resources, encouraging and trialling creative ideas and supporting groups and individuals to increasing weed control across landscapes.
Jo Ritchie, Treescape Environmental
WHAKARONGOA MUA - Listen to the voice of the community - common sense not rocket science
Often when faced with environmental issues or problems we lay the blame on other people. It's overly simplistic and alienates the very ingredient that's always needed to reach a solution or a compromise. We turn what should be common sense into rocket science and forget that solutions are best sought by good old listening and talking and gaining a common understanding.
Yes it can be challenging but if you see problems as challenges to overcome - the seemingly impossible becomes possible. I've worked on many environmental projects where people are often at opposite ends of the spectrum but are passionate in stance and love their environment. They just view it differently. It’s a challenge to get them to a common understanding.
In my experience the best approach is always having an open mind and using your ears before your mouth - listening first to stories and then striking up conversations.
Ben Reddiex, Director, Community Engagement Unit, Kaihautū- Piringa Hāpori, Department of Conservation
Nature Space; Growing the national platform for ecological restoration in New Zealand
Nature Space is an interactive website designed to support New Zealand’s community based ecological restoration groups. It does this by providing and linking to resources on ecological restoration, by hosting and promoting the work of individuals and groups, and by connecting the wider restoration community.
Currently there are over 340 active groups on the site represented by over 37,000 group members with huge opportunity for growth. In late 2015 the initiative transitioned leadership to a national Governance Board with representation from Regional Councils, the Department of Conservation and NGO’s.
The focus has been on establishing a sustainable funding structure to enable further development, enhancing functionality, new opportunities to empower community groups, and ongoing management of the portal.
There is now a strong foundation to upscale across New Zealand to support the vision that ‘Nature Space is the national portal for quality information on ecological restoration and management, where people connect and share knowledge’.
Julian Fitter, Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society
Competition, Cooperation, Unity or Bust
The development of community led conservation in New Zealand in the 21st Century
Environmental Conservation in NZ faces huge challenges with DOC focussing more and more on tourism and major protected areas. There is pressure on the myriad small, often community based, conservation groups to step up and help to halt the slide.
These groups are largely volunteer based and face a constant battle for resources especially if they are successful or ambitious.
Presently we work largely in isolation, competing for these resources, with no overall strategy or regional or national goals. If however we were to work more closely with each other, or even become unified in some way, then we would have a real chance to start winning the battle.
The alternative is to tire and go bust!
Bronwen Golder, The Pew Charitable Trusts
Looking Beyond Ourselves
For all the positive talk about stronger, smarter conservation communities, coalitions, and partnerships we continue to loose ground in the battle to protect special and vulnerable species and spaces across New Zealand’s terrestrial and ocean territory.
What is missing from the mix? Reviewing the seven-year Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary campaign, we will explore the factors that have enabled the Kermadec initiative partners and Kermadec ‘communities of interest’ to secure a world leading marine conservation declaration by the New Zealand Government. We will also look at the factors that have worked against it. With the perspective of lead advocate for a globally significant conservation win (now being unpicked by those with an alternative world view), the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary campaign provides a glimpse of what is possible when the expectations and requirements of conservation partnerships and advocacy are defined, framed and motivated by a blue sky ambition.
KEYNOTE: David Mules, Reconnecting Northland
Reconnecting Northland: How can we learn through successful models of collaboration?
Reconnecting Northland, New Zealand’s first regional-scale ecological restoration programme, is now in its fourth year. Using a diverse range of refreshing approaches this programme is inspiring and supporting a number of conservation projects throughout Te Tai Tokerau, helping to demonstrate what can be achieved when groups work collaboratively together within a shared vision. As well as a brief overview of the Reconnecting Northland programme itself, this presentation will also look at two of these projects in some depth, showing how the scale of the outcomes achieved can be greatly enhanced through groups working effectively together. The challenges involved in working in such collaborative partnerships will also be discussed, as this is not ‘business as usual’ for most groups. Reconnecting Northland’s experience will provide some hopeful and encouraging insights towards both a healthier natural world and a revitalisation of our communities.
Abstracts: Friday 20 May 2016
THEME: Succeeding in a Changing World
KEYNOTE: Yvette Couch-Lewis, Ngai Tahu
What is it to be Ngai Tahu, within a changing world?
The journey begins with whakapapa. Ngai Tahu is here for a lifetime and beyond. It is the legacy given by our Tipuna and is our Intergeneration responsibility.
Links to natural resources directly determined the welfare and future of the tribe. As Ta Mark Solomon said
“The cornerstone of Ngāi Tahu is our environment and we simply won’t compromise on it. That would undermine the efforts of our elders and take away some of the true joys of life for those who come after us.”
The external world is changing and we all need to consider building partnerships and alliances for the benefit of our taonga species.
A partnership with Ngāi Tahu relies completely on all parties committing to the cause and our success depends on good relationships.
“In unity there is strength”
Jacinta Ruru, Professor of Law, University of Otago and Co-Director of Nga Pae o te Maramatanga New Zealand's Maori Centre of Research Excellence
The opportunities of Treaty of Waitangi Settlements for biodiversity recovery
Treaty of Waitangi settlements have created an array of new and exciting mechanisms to address biodiversity recovery. This address considers a range of these mechanisms across the country including provisions that recognise the cultural, spiritual, historic, and traditional association of iwi with the taonga species to the new legal personality device that has been implemented in Te Urewera.
Bill Kermode, NEXT Foundation
- How does NEXT make its investment decisions?
- What is NEXT looking to fund more of?
- Can that investment improve community conservation group outcomes?
- How can community groups get more funding?
KEYNOTE: Margaret O'Sullivan, Fonterra Brands NZ Ltd (Mainland Brand)
While New Zealand is ranked 3rdon the World Giving Index Rankings, business and corporate giving make up a small proportion of our nation’s total estimated philanthropic funding.
This doesn’t mean they aren’t supporting charities and community projects but it does mean a very real move away from a limited-engagement “one and done” donation format.
Corporates are establishing partnership or sponsorship models with not-for-profits. And now more than ever they want to roll up their sleeves and get actively involved in those organisations they support.
Margaret’s talk will explore what’s driving this move. In doing so, she will draw on experiences and learnings from Fonterra’s work in local communities – including Mainland’s sponsorship of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trustand Fonterra’s Living Water, Milk for Schools and Grass Roots programmes.
Chris Howe, WWF-NZ
Changing your point of view: Who is the ‘we’ in the question, ‘How can we make economic and social benefits work for us?’
‘How can we make economic and social benefits work for us?’ is one of the questions posed by the organisers of Conservation Inc2.
The words ‘we’ and ‘us’ are often used as shorthand for ‘the organisation I work for.’ Funders and government agencies frequently use ‘we’ and ‘us’ when talking about conservation activities or outcomes they want community groups to deliver, projecting a false sense of inclusivity and displaying a lack of understanding of community-led conservation.
Agencies and funders need to change their point of view. A better question to community conservation groups might be, ‘What do economic and social benefits look like, and how can we help make them work for you?’ Accepting communities’ own assessment of their needs will likely lead to better results for conservation.
Andrew Cutler, Forest & Bird
How planning will set you free!
To succeed in a changing world you need a plan; but who wants to plan when there are possums to kill, trees to plant, weeds to clear and native plants, animals and insects to protect? Often, community conservation groups see strategic planning as a chore, a task required by funders and bureaucrats to meet administrative needs. The opposite should be our goal. Without a clear vision of what success looks like and a plan to get there we risk wasting effort, missing the big picture and limiting our opportunities. Five years after developing its first strategic plan, and with a second plan now in operation, Forest & Bird is showing how a clear vision and goals can drive performance and success.
[Note: Andrew's presentation did not follow the abstract submitted]
KEYNOTE: Geoff Simmons, Morgan Foundation
Mobilising NZ to fight the war on predators
Conservation is no longer the preserve of the tree hugging hippies. Our economy and reputation is based on our natural assets and we need to invest in maintaining these assets otherwise we'll lose them. NZ needs to accept the challenge and step up to fight the war on predators.
From predator free islands and cities to challenging the national identity as cat owners the Morgan Foundation isn’t afraid to address the controversial issues of conservation and encourage NZ to tackle predators head on. If we are going to win this battle we have to take risks and do things differently.
Ben Reddiex, Director, Community Engagement Unit, Kaihautū- Piringa Hāpori, Department of Conservation
Environmental funds for community groups
Environmental funds that are administered by the Department include the Nature Heritage Fund, the DOC Community Fund (formerly known as the Biodiversity Advice and Condition Fund) and Ngā Whenua Rāhui. These funds have all supported numerous community conservation initiatives over many years.
Environmental funds are a key tool for implementing the Department of Conservations partnership approach. This paper will outline the priorities for these funds.
The Department is just one of a number of government departments that have contestable funding available for environment initiatives. This paper will also outline a number of funding opportunities across the Natural Resources Sector.
THEME: Daring and Innovation
YEP Stocktake Team: Bruce McKinlay, DOC, Dunedin; Yvette Couch-Lewis, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Christchurch; Sue Murray, Yep Trust, Dunedin & Kerri-Anne Edge Hill, edge effect, Te Anau
Species Recovery Programme Technical Reviews: do they tell us anything or are they a distraction?
Single species Recovery Planning has been used in Aotearoa/New Zealand to guide conservation efforts since the mid-1980s. The style and details of these reviews have evolved over time and this refinement continues. A tension between biological change in the field, and policy and strategic direction in a formal document, is a palpable part of the process. A Stocktake of the Hoiho Recovery Plan was undertaken in 2015. The Stocktake Team was made up of representatives of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, Ngāi Tahu, and DOC. The brief was to review progress against the objectives of the plan and to provide a critical platform for a new species Recovery Plan. It was to be inclusive, with Rūnanga and stakeholder perspectives gathered. The Stocktake team interviewed 91 individuals in small groups from Auckland to Rakiura/Stewart Island. From these interviews we developed an understanding of the critical issues facing hoiho recovery. Using this case study and other examples that the team members have been involved in we will discuss the merits and costs of reviewing species recovery programmes. In both an Adaptive Management Framework and Project Management methodologies reviewing progress is a standard integral component of the project; but in the context of species management review has not occurred regularly. Species recovery reviews are a social process, with a necessity to listen to and capture perspectives and, at the same time, focus on the key messages for the decision maker/s. The customer changes as the project proceeds. We will discuss our methods and the importance of setting up a safe environment for contributors. The final report may need to be written in a style which is meaningful and accessible to a diverse audience.
Dougal McGowan, Otago Chamber of Commerce
Shaping our futures: What works and what doesn't in pushing the limits?
Dougal's presentation will delve into the contentious issues of changing the strategic direction, thinking and perceptions of what can been seen as some of our most conservative organisations. There will be an exploration of the paradigm shift needed in many organisations given the current state of organisational disruption that is occurring due to the way we work, live, and play. A key element will be " how do I see what's coming beyond the horizon”. To finish there will be a look at the ways in which Chambers of Commerce and environmental NGOs work together to create a better communities for our children's futures.
Leigh Honnor, Taranaki Biodiversity Trust
Wild for Taranaki
Over the last eight years the supergroup ‘Wild for Taranaki’ has been on a journey. Their dream was to significantly advance the protection and restoration of biodiversity throughout Taranaki. In 2012 they released the Taranaki Biodiversity Forum Accord. In 2014 a Regional Biodiversity Co-ordinator was employed. In 2015 the Taranaki Biodiversity Trust was formed.
Over the last year considerable progress has been made. The Trust Board developed a Strategic Plan (2015-2020), and set the top six priorities for 2015-2017.
The Trust has developed a new identity ‘Wild for Taranaki’, launched the Community Biodiversity Fund, grown its membership, run two workshops, and held a community Forum to discuss options for collaborative, high value, landscape-scale biodiversity projects.
The Trust has been supported in its work by funding from Taranaki Regional Council under a MoU. It plans to increase support and funding for its work in partnership with the community and industry.
Conservation Tales: the assumption of a happy ever after
Using Vladimir Propp's typology to analyse the stories that we tell about conservation successes, we can find many of the elements of a fairy story. We have a hero, and a journey. We have insurmountable odds and good triumphs over evil. And, although no one has ever included “and the species lived happily ever after,” this form is so embedded into our culture that the public often fills in the blank of that last step.
This paper discusses some of the patterns in the stories that we are telling about conservation and suggests ways in which we can guard against that assumption of happily ever after.
Michelle Frank, Head of Conservation Projects, WWF-NZ
Making social media work for your community conservation group
Making social media work for community conservation". Being able to take your stories, campaigns, and activities directly to your online audiences is absolutely golden - to motivate and mobilise them towards environmental conservation. Social media can increase brand recognition, engage new audiences, and generate public awareness which is a crucial step towards policy change and resolution of conservation issues. This is a snapshot about how you can use social media for your organisation, why it works and why it doesn't.
Kay Booth, Deputy Director-General, Partnerships, Kāhui Matarautaki, Department of Conservation
How do we achieve our conservation goals?
No single player in the conservation game can win it on their own because iwi, communities and businesses are inextricably connected with each other and the environment in which they work and live. The idea that we need to join up to achieve our conservation objectives is not new but we have come a long way in how we work together and who we are prepared to work with. Traditional roles of conservation organizations are not necessarily suited to working on shared objectives or operating in partnership. Organisational cultures will need to change if we want to be successful in today’s societal context.
Tsehai Tiffin, Real Journeys