Victoria University’s classroom in a wetland!
Five years ago, Victoria University Wellington students planted a swathe of nursery trees in the Wairio Wetland.
This landmark wetland habitat was created in the late 1980s by Ducks Unlimited in Collaboration with the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Last week the Victoria University biodiversity team were back. Stephen Hartley and his team were armed with over 300 specimen trees (Kahikatea, Totara, Tawaki (or Swamp) Maire & Cabbage)- sourced thanks to a $2000 grant from DOC - to continue their comparative research into cost effective restoration processes by adding these trees as infill planting.
The cold but enthusiastic University team were supported by members of Ducks Unlimited and DOC.
Recently over 25 supporters of the Wairio Wetland Restoration Project came together to plant over 2,000 sedges,flaxes, nurse trees and specimen trees.
After being welcomed to the site and reminded by Jim Law of Ducks Unlimited of the Vision to restore the pristine wetland that had previously occupied the site, and after being briefed on the preferred planting technique by Don Bell of the Greater Wellington Regional Council the planting teams then
heard from Bridget Johnson, a Masters student from Victoria University’s Centre for Biodiversity & Restoration Ecology. Bridget’s thesis is focused on restoration work at Wairio and will compare tree survival rates and costs related to different site preparation methods and subsequent maintenance treatments. “That’s why we need the consistent planting technique, otherwise we introduce another rather random variable” said Bridget.
“The whole idea of the research programme is to introduce some scientific rigour to our restoration work” said Jim Law. “We all have our favourite ways of planting and caring for native trees but there is little, if any, science to back up what we do. Dr Hartley, Bridget’s supervisor added “We expect the results of Bridget’s research and the results from future students working at Wairio will be applicable elsewhere around the Lake and at least in the wider Wairarapa”.
So, well briefed on the Vision, planting techniques and the importance of the research programme the planting teams comprising students from the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, Ducks Unlimited, Forest & Bird and Rotary members, local iwi and both Department of Conservation and Greater Wellington staff headed off to plant various combinations of nurse and specimen trees in the test beds.
Then the “A” teams arrived, the environmentalists of the future from the Pirinoa, Kahutara and Martinborough Primary Schools. After being similarly greeted and briefed on planting techniques the children all headed off with their minders to plant sedges and flaxes in some soft ground near the water’s edge. “They love it and are proud of what they are doing. They also want to see further development of the wetland” said Steve Davis from Pirinoa.
Then, when the children had finished their planting, it was back to the BBQ provided by Greater Wellington Regional Council for a well learnt sausage! “Tired but happy with what they have achieved” was the consensus. The older planters also had a break at the BBQ but then had to head back to the test beds for more planting but, by the end of the day over 2,000 plants were carefully planted.
“A great effort by all!” said a thankful Bridget.
AgResearch intends to form a joint international research centre with China’s largest state–owned food company and largest university research department specialising in food science and nutrition.
A Collaboration Arrangement was signed earlier this year in Beijing with the Nutrition and Health Research Institute (NHRI) within the China Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO), and with the College of Food Science and Nutritional Engineering (CFSNE) of China Agriculture University (CAU).
The parties will explore opportunities to work together formally in the name of a “Joint International Research Centre for Food Science’ to promote international exchange, research and productivity, with a particular focus on further enhancing a China/New Zealand relationship”.
The arrangement states: “The overall goal of the collaboration is to initiate activities that are of mutual benefit to the parties in terms of knowledge development, scientific and technological innovation and economic benefit”.
AgResearch chief executive Tom Richardson says the relationship with such influential institutions – from the world’s most populous country with a rapidly expanding middle class – opens up a host of opportunities for AgResearch, and agriculture and agribusiness in New Zealand.
“We are fortunate to have world-class scientists in New Zealand. Being able to reach out and work with some of the best scientists elsewhere in the world bolsters what we are doing, and what we can offer to enhance industry here.”
“Some of the key research areas where AgResearch expects to work closely with COFCO and CAU are food science, processing, food assurance and safety, and human nutrition.”
Jarrod Booker, External Communications Manager, AgResearch Ltd.
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