In­no­va­tors in awards fi­nal

Hamilton Metro News - - FRONT PAGE - Tom Row­land

Four en­trants from the Waikato re­gion are now fi­nal­ists in the 2017 World Wide Fund for Na­ture (WWF) Con­ser­va­tion In­no­va­tion Awards.

The awards are de­signed to help in­no­va­tors fast-track their ideas to de­vel­op­ment. The three cat­e­gories were: en­gag­ing young peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties, preda­tor-free New Zealand 2050 and an open cat­e­gory. A prize of $25,000 is awarded to the three winners.

The fi­nal­ists in­clude three teams from Hamil­ton — In­ves­ti­gat­ing the Weird Bio­di­ver­sity of the Waikato, NZAu­toTraps and Au­ton­o­mous Weed Eaters — while Raglan also has one fi­nal­ist, Kiwi Trail­blaz­ers.

Each team was tasked with pick­ing a con­ser­va­tion prob­lem and try­ing to solve it. Their idea had to be new and unique.

NZAu­toTraps has worked on a project to meet the 2050 Preda­tor Free pest goal.

The team de­vel­oped a trap that would kill both pos­sums and rats, rather than need­ing two dif­fer­ent types.

Brent Beaven, a com­menter on on the awards on­line fo­rum, said the idea was good con­cep­tu­ally.

“Not only does it elim­i­nate in­ter­fer­ence from rats which can make a pos­sum trap non us­able, but also al­lows both species to be tar­geted at once,” Mr Beaven said.

Au­ton­o­mous Weed Eaters’ idea was to de­velop a spe­cific bio con­trol agent to re­duce the neg­a­tive ef­fect of weeds on New Zealand.

The team is work­ing with Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil and hopes to have a com­pre­hen­sive pro­gramme in the next five to 10 years.

Kiwi Trail­blaz­ers is an en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion app which en­cour­ages peo­ple to ex­plore New Zealand’s coastal en­vi­ron­ment.

The team’s main goal is to ad­dress the col­lapse of chil­dren’s en­gage­ment with na­ture. The team says that adults who ex­pe­ri­ence na­ture as a chil­dren are likely to be mo­ti­vated to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment.

Jenny Bond, a com­menter on the awards on­line fo­rum said the idea was help­ful as the app would iden­tify crea­tures as well.

“I am of­ten out and about with my grand­chil­dren and when they ask the name of some crea­ture and I don’t know, this will be the so­lu­tion,” Ms Bond said.

There were 47 en­tries from across the coun­try. Winners will be an­nounced at an awards cer­e­mony in Welling­ton on Novem­ber 22.

WWF is one of the world’s largest in­de­pen­dent con­ser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions, with more than 5 mil­lion sup­port­ers and a global net­work in more than 100 coun­tries.

The 2017 Awards are sup­ported by The Tin­dall Foun­da­tion, Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion, Cal­laghan In­no­va­tion, Preda­tor Free 2050 Ltd and New Zealand’s Bi­o­log­i­cal Her­itage Na­tional Science Chal­lenge+

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