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Research Projects

Research Projects

There are many projects in this area but the most notable are:

 

Prioritising River Values

This project began in 2008 with funding from Envirolink. Funding from this source and elsewhere has resulted in development of the River Values Assessment System (RiVAS), a tool that allows the ranking of different rivers for different values in a region to be made.

So far RiVAS applications have been completed for nine values, with two more being worked on.  Details of the method, guidelines for its use and a literature review about related approaches are available as is a recent presentation to Northland Regional Council about the method, its benefits and cost. The Project Manager is Ken Hughey from Lincoln University. A key council contact is Mary-Anne Baker (Tasman District), while a key implementation consultant is Dr Kay Booth.

 

Applications of RiVAS and RiVAS+:
 

Four applications have been made to IRRIGATION, first to Canterbury and then latterly to Tasman, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay.  One issue has been that for many potentially irrigable areas water can be accessed from a range of sources (including underground) thus making ranking and prioritising individual rivers challenging, but not insurmountable.

Application of RiVAS to JETBOATING values occurred in Canterbury. This work led to a companion guide to the jetboating resource and its characteristics in Canterbury which is of use to existing and potential boaters. 

Four applications have been made to NATIVE BIRDS to Canterbury, and then latterly to Tasman, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay.  While a large number of Canterbury rivers are considered nationally important for native birds, largely because of their braided nature, presence of many threatened and at risk species, only Hawkes Bay contained others considered of national significance.

Three completed applications of RiVAS and RiVAS+ have been confirmed for NATIVE FISH, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Northland. One report in draft is for Tasman. It is notable that in all work to date all regions contain a number of river bodies important for native fish, that many water bodies contain ‘threatened or at risk’ species, and that immediate priorities for restoration of native fish can be identified including fencing needs for inanga spawning.

Marlborough was the first application of RiVAS to NATURAL CHARACTER. Subsequent applications have been completed for Gisborne, Tasman, Hawkes Bay and Northland. The first two applications used a 5-point evaluation scale but subsequently the standard 3-point scale has been applied. Typically upper catchments are more highly rated than those lower and more fully developed.

The very first application of RiVAS was made to SALMONID ANGLING in Tasman. Subsequently it has been applied in Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne. All four regions contain rivers important for salmonid angling.

SWIMMING is a very popular river-based recreational activity in much of New Zealand, but there is little or no ‘hard’ data about levels or characteristics of use. Manawatu was first to apply RiVAS to swimming followed by Tasman, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Northland. Implementation of the method has helped identify a large number of regionally or locally important swimming spots and key monitoring sites.

Only one application of RiVAS has been made for ‘WATER USED FOR DOMESTIC PURPOSES’ and this was in Gisborne. The tool clearly identified key water bodies necessary for potable water supplies.

Application of RiVAS to TANGATA WHENUA values occurred in Southland. This was a challenging but worthwhile application. Further applications are being made in Tasman and Hawkes Bay but are taking time, largely because of capacity issues.

West Coast was the first region to apply RiVAS to WHITEWATER KAYAKING, followed by Tasman and Hawkes Bay. All three regions contain important kayaking rivers. RiVAS has helped identify the important rivers but also their key characteristics which is important for management and for kayakers.


 

Public Perceptions of New Zealand's Environment

This research studies New Zealand residents´ views about the New Zealand environment. Data has been obtained by mail survey of 2000 people randomly selected from the Electoral Roll, but in 2013 was gathered through e-survey.

Each biennial (from 2010 triennial) survey uses the Pressure-State-Response framework for state of the environment reporting to assess resources such as air quality, native plants and animals, native forest and bush, soils, beaches and coastal waters, marine fisheries, marine reserves, freshwaters, national parks, wetlands, urban environments, and the natural environment compared to other developed nations.

We also examine participation in environmentally friendly activities. Individual case studies are also undertaken and reported.
All the reports are available in hard copy and electronically (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 20102013 and 2016).
The project leader is Professor Ken Hughey with Professors Geoff Kerr and Ross Cullen other members of the research team.

 

2016: The 8th triennial (formerly biennial) survey (see Hughey, Kerr and Cullen 2016) was carried out in 2016. Consistency in findings is again a notable feature although since the electronic surveys began in 2010 there has been a downward decline in the peoples’ perceptions of a range of environmental parameters. Again a notable finding is that there has been a more than doubling over the 2000-2016 survey period to around 59% of respondents identifying farming as a major cause of damage to freshwater. Other key results are again that of our natural resources rivers and lakes are considered in the worst state, and getting worse over time; by contrast people are still generally positive about management. The 2016 case studies concerned some matters of conservation interest – visits to national parks and introduced predator control.

2013: This was the 7th triennial (formerly biennial) survey (see Hughey, Kerr and Cullen 2013). Consistent findings were again reported – notably there has been a more than doubling over the 2000-2013 survey period to around 56% of respondents identifying farming as a major cause of damage to freshwater. Other key results are again that of our natural resources rivers and lakes are considered in the worst state, and getting worse over time; by contrast people are still generally positive about management. Our 2013 case studies concerned whitebait fishery management and options for how to better limit the catch, and peoples’ perceptions of the relative importance and positive symbolism to New Zealand of having viable populations of a wide range of animal species in the wild.

2010: This was the ‘10th’ anniversary of biennial surveying (see for example Hughey, Cullen and Kerr 2010). Consistent findings were again reported – notably there has been a more than doubling over the 2000-2010 survey period to over 50% for those identifying farming as a major cause of damage to freshwater. For this survey we tested parallel postal and electronic surveys and will run with electronic in the future. We decided also to run future surveys triennially – trends are consistent and for cost saving reasons. The case study was again freshwater.

2008: In 2008 we began to detect that respondents were viewing management of natural resources increasingly positively while pressures and states were remaining largely static. This suggests an optimism that improved management will ultimately be reflected in an improved state. Case studies were around freshwater and around conservation. This was the 5th iteration of the survey, a milestone (see for example Hughey, Cullen and Kerr 2008).

2006: While overall trends were now consistently embedded in the survey findings we did make one major change to the survey – we removed questions about conditions 5 years ago – we did this because the survey now covered such periods. The case studies were around land transport and the environment (see Hughey, Kerr and Cullen 2011) and priorities for government policy.

2004: Our third survey witnessed even more significance in terms of changing perceptions of farming and freshwater – this was a trend that has continued since. Our case study was about freshwater and freshwater angling. Notable here was detection of significant differences between Maori, European and other ethnicities with Maori typically expressing higher levels of concern (see Cullen, Kerr and Hughey 2006; Hughey, Kerr and Cullen 2007). Also for the first time we reported the genesis/rationale of the survey in a peer reviewed journal (see Hughey, Kerr, Cullen and Cook 2004).

2002: This survey saw the first set of results comparable to a previous, the 2000 survey. The biggest finding was that an increasing number of people identified farming as a major cause of damage to freshwater. We had two case studies: one around allocation of government expenditure (see Kerr, Cullen and Hughey 2010), and the other about the coastal-marine environment including the potential to introduce a marine fishing licence for recreational anglers (see Kerr, Hughey and Cullen 2003).

2000: The first of the biennial surveys – no great surprises, not surprisingly as there was no comparable data. Perhaps most gratifying was the 48% effective response rate – amazing for a postal survey of this type. A case study on hazards was included in the survey.

 

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