- Wayne Linklater

Dr Wayne Linklater is a researcher in Wildlife Biology & Human Dimensions Ecology at Victoria University. He is also Ex-Officio Representative on New Zealand's CITES Scientific Authorities Committee and Co-President (Academic) of the Victoria University Branch of the Tertiary Education Union.

We can do better than Predator Free 2050 - Politecol

May 09, 2017

I have established that Predator Free 2050 (PF2050) is not scientifically rational because it can’t be done and carries with it extraordinary scientific, political and social risks for gains that are less than required to address our nation’s environmental and biodiversity challenges. Instead of PF2050 it would be more sensible, lower risk and increase our chances of sustained biodiversity conservation if we worked with current technologies and took their gradual, incremental improvements as a bonus. Fortunately, there is a rational and scientific alternative, developed over the last 50 years, and it is called Integrated Landscape and Pest Management. First, we have proven that it is possible to protect our most vulnerable biodiversity in sanctuaries and reserves. Second, we know how to scientifically manage predators around those sanctuaries, the halo, so that it supports greater numbers of our less vulnerable … Read More

Predator Free 2050 is scientifically flawed - Politecol

May 09, 2017

Predator Free 2050 is good politics but it is scientifically flawed. It can’t be done. Predator-free 2050 was described as a “moon shot” but, actually, its an Andromeda Galaxy shot – unattainable. New Zealand’s, and the world’s, leading experts in animal eradication have already concluded that it is not possible to eradicate introduced mammalian predators from New Zealand. That consensus of expert opinion has been ignored. PF2050 and the Department of Conservation (DOC) guiding it are under resourced. Its estimated cost is $32 billion but just a thousandth of that number has been set aside ($26 million). The success of PF 2050 rests entirely on complicated solutions that are largely unknown, undeveloped and untested, like the genetic manipulation of wildlife. Those solutions have enormous technical and biological uncertainties to their use. The chances of actually being able to … Read More

A better conservation science sector is critical… … of itself - Politecol

Mar 11, 2017

My latest critique of conservation in New Zealand received a largely positive response, especially from others who think empathy with wildlife an important ethic. It was a busy week and so, unfortunately, I haven’t yet responded to all who telephoned and wrote. But the article also received some negative comments, especially from people who identify themselves as conservationist or conservation scientists. Australian brushtail possum. Source: Victoria University of Wellington This has also been true for some of my other recent weblog posts and newspaper articles. Particularly disliked were my articles debating the introduction of kaka to Wellington City, or Predator-free 2050. Conservationists appear particularly unsettled when policy and practice is critiqued by a fellow conservationist. Amongst the thoughtful and interesting comments, thank you, were also many in which accused me of writing “nonsense … Read More

Conservation’s horizon in New Zea la-la land - Politecol

Jan 30, 2017

Designing ecosystems, reconciliation ecology for conservation The theme for the influential Ecological Society of America’s annual conference last year was “Novel Ecosystems in the Anthropocene”. A novel ecosystem is a human-made habitat and community of plants and animals. Novel ecosystems can be planned, accidental, or caused by poor environmental management that cannot be undone. And Anthropocene describes the current geological age when we, people, are the most significant influence on the planet. They are both de rigueur right now. Late last year the first issue of Anthropocene: innovation in the human age, arrived in my mailbox. Once titled Conservation Science, it now “explore[s] how we create a sustainable human age we actually want to live in”. Anthropocene features novel ecosystems and “inventing, establishing and maintaining new habitats to conserve species diversity in places dominated and impacted by people”. This is Reconciliation Ecology as first … Read More

Are Kiwi academics less engaged in govt policy-making? - Politecol

Jul 14, 2016

The Chief Science Advisor to the New Zealand Prime Minister thinks New Zealand’s university academics are less engaged in policy-making by government than those in other countries. Source of image: The Guardian Perhaps it was an unplanned, throw-away, line in Sir Peter Gluckman’s wide-ranging presentation for the Science & Society Series at Victoria University today (13 July), but it grabbed my attention. Peter gave only cursory explanations for his belief, like academics not asking policy-relevant questions etc., but none were developed arguments or evidential. His belief, however, is important – partly because he holds it, but especially if it is true. Is it true? I don’t know. But let us assume it is. Why might it be so? Since the mid-1980s, neo-liberal government policies have radically changed the functioning of universities and their relationships with government and their communities. Essentially, … Read More

The science and memories of children climbing trees - Politecol

Jan 19, 2016

A cordon of dark, gnarly Macrocarpa trees stood along the falling-down-fence boundaries behind my childhood home. I can’t recall ever crossing the boundaries they defined. The fields beyond were someone else’s. They lived on different roads that I seldom travelled. The trees, like sentinels, looked outward over my no-man’s land. And, like guardians, they looked inward over my play. Like a friend, one became my frontier and then sanctuary. Wood and fire, community and memory My father felled those magnificent trees for firewood, one by one over many years, to warm our home. Beginning with those closest to the house, each tree supplied more than a year of firewood but not two. There was a lot of waste. One man working with a chainsaw and axe takes only the easiest firewood – its hard work. The rest, too … Read More

Working with cat owners because cat-love is blind - Politecol

Sep 23, 2015

Charmingly and disastrously at the same time, love is blind. And, our myopic affections extend to our cats. This is the unsurprising, but important, conclusion from a new study of 86 cats and their owners in two UK villages [1]. The 86 cats returned between one and two prey per month on average to their owners. But, as expected from previous research, cats varied a lot in their propensity to kill and bring the kill home. Twenty-five cats did not return any prey but others returned over 10* prey items per month**. All types of wildlife were killed – reptiles, birds and mammals – and most were native wildlife. Despite this large variation, when cat-owners were asked at the beginning of the study to estimate how many animals their cat routinely killed most could not accurately … Read More

Victoria University Democalyse - Politecol

Aug 20, 2015

When the staff and students of Victoria University were asked how they would like members on university’s governance council to be selected – democratic election, or appointment by the council or some other select group – 71% supported elections (450 staff and 700 students responded to the survey). Selection by election was also the most supported option amongst the ~1000 alumni that responded to the survey. New Zealand’s other leading universities: Otago, Lincoln, Canterbury, Auckland and Massey, have retained positions on council for academic and general staff members, and a student member, under the new rules (see text box below) and those positions are elected. Despite these outcomes, Victoria University is proposing not to support democratically elected staff  representatives on the university council. Instead the appointment to council, without peer-election, of two ‘academic experts’ is proposed. Moreover, general (administrative, … Read More

Growing and protecting New Zealand’s wildlife economy - Politecol

Mar 04, 2015

Wildlife is critical to the economies of nations. New Zealand’s whales, dolphins, albatross, kiwi, tuatara and kauri bring tourists. And the tourists who come to see our wildlife stay for longer and spend more, especially in our provinces and small towns, than those who come for our casinos and high-end hotels [1, 2]. Even our exotic wildlife bring the world’s wealthier, free-spending anglers and hunters. The least magnificent red deer trophies cost them US$6000 and upward to over US$12,000. Even that anathema to forest conservation, the goat, will fetch $US1000 and hunters pay US$300 for a brushtail possum – go figure. In Australia the economic value of koala was estimated at A$1.1 billion [2]. There are no estimates for how much wildlife contribute to New Zealand’s economy, but if they … Read More

Are women more ‘environmentally friendly’? - Politecol

Oct 31, 2014

Chances are you have heard it said: ‘Women care more about the environment’. Perhaps you have even heard someone say that ‘women are more environmentally aware’ or ‘women are more likely to act to protect the environment’? The idea appears to originate from the argument that women have a more substantive or direct relationship with the environment because they are our species nurturers. The assumption is that the sex which nurtures the next generation – invests most and is most vulnerable – will be overwhelmingly more sensitive to the future and its environment and so behave accordingly. The ideas seems intuitive to me. Some of my own motivations for working in environmental science and biodiversity conservation are that I want my two daughters to live in a world as least as … Read More