By John Kerr 18/07/2016

The Government funds millions of dollars’ worth of conservation and environment research each year – and it needs your help to make sure that research is heading in the right direction.

Conservation and Environment Science Roadmap discussion documentA planned conservation and environment science ‘roadmap’ will lay out the Government’s research priorities of for the next 20 years. The Department of Conservation (DOC) and Ministry for the Environment (MfE) have jointly released a discussion document, seeking public feedback on where the roadmap should focus.

According to the document:

“The goal of the roadmap is […] to identify the areas of scientific knowledge that will be needed to support decision-making for conservation and environmental policy and management. This will help us reach our national ambitions of having a healthier people and environment, and a robust economy, while also nurturing our environment and conservation estates and implementing our obligations under the Treaty of Waitang”

Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith said science is pivotal to finding the solutions that will enable New Zealand to best protect the environment while ensuring a successful and growing economy.

“We want the public to be involved in the production of the roadmap alongside the science and innovation sector,” he said.

“The discussion paper is an excellent opportunity to get feedback on our direction,”

The Roadmap, announced in March, will be drafted by DOC and MfE, assisted by an independent Strategic Advisory Group. This group is led by the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, and includes representatives from conservation groups, Crown Research Institutes and academia.

Commenting on the roadmap earlier in the year Sir Peter stated:

“This is a very ambitious and important project. It is very much science–led. Its impact will extend over multiple cycles of government and therefore its focus is not caught up in the policies of the government of the day but rather in ensuring knowledge essential to New Zealand making informed choices in complex areas is achieved.”

A dozen research themes presented

The newly-released discussion document lays out 12 key themes that might be included in the roadmap, seeking public feedback on the issues raised by each. The themes are:

Climate change
Integrated ecosystems and processes
Freshwater ecosystems and processes
Land ecosystems and processes
Coastal and marine ecosystems and processes
Urban ecosystems and processes
Populations and species
Mātauranga Māori
Social and economic dimensions
Informatics, modelling and monitoring
New and emerging technologies


Head over to the Ministry for the Environment website to read the discussion document and have your say on the Conservation and Environment Science Roadmap. Submissions close at 5.00pm on Wednesday 7 September 2016.

Conservation scientist welcomes consultation

Profile Image
Dr Cate Macinnis-Ng

Dr Cate Macinnis-Ng, a senior lecturer in Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland, welcomed the broad scope and wide coverage of the document.

“New Zealand has a number of very pressing environmental challenges,” she commented to the Science Media Centre.

“On the positive side, the roadmap also highlights some of the opportunities in the environmental space including new technologies and mātauranga Māori. Better integration of mātauranga Māori and tikanga Māori into environmental assessment and management has huge potential for improving environmental and social health for all New Zealanders.”

Read further expert commentary on the discussion document on

Featured image credit: Flickr /  Tom Hall

0 Responses to “Govt asks: ‘Conservation science – are we doing it right?’”

  • A roadmap is a wonderful thing, but the current driver on our ecology and conservation policy road trip doesn’t read maps – he doesn’t believe in them. Doesn’t need them either – he’s a man of the people and people don’t need no stinking map – people use their common sense to know where they are going.

    Greenwashing at best.