An agreement between Victoria University and ZEALANDIA: The Karori Sanctuary Experience, will foster greater research collaboration between the two organisations.
Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh and ZEALANDIA Sanctuary CEO Nancy McIntosh-Ward signed a Memorandum of Understanding yesterday to promote closer research links between the Karori Sanctuary Trust (which manages ZEALANDIA) and Victoria University’s Centre for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology.
Professor Walsh notes research links were first formally recognised in 2006 after the research Centre for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology was founded, with the unveiling of a plaque and native tree planting within the Sanctuary.
"Victoria is also a strategic partner of Karori Sanctuary Trust, whose Trustees include Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Charles Daugherty and Professor Sir Paul Callaghan, one of our foremost academics," Professor Walsh says.
"It’s clear that this partnership with the Centre for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology has been fruitful and has had a significant impact on best-practice conservation in New Zealand. I’m sure we both look forward to working together in this area for many more years."
ZEALANDIA Chief Executive Nancy McIntosh-Ward says that the partnership with Victoria University is an important part of ZEALANDIA’s 500-year vision.
"Education and Research is one of our key goals. ZEALANDIA provides a unique, living laboratory located within the city where students and staff can actively contribute to a world-first conservation project."
Associate Professor Ben Bell, Centre for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology Director, says the agreement fostered research aimed at biodiversity restoration and management in an internationally recognised forest sanctuary.
"This important agreement is timely as we approach the International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May 2011, the International Year of Forests."
Associate Professor Bell says staff in Victoria’s School of Biological Sciences have not only contributed to research programmes in ZEALANDIA, but have given a range of management advice, presented public talks, and given advice on the design of the new visitor centre.
"In addition, a series of successful postgraduate student research projects have been completed there, while undergraduates have done additional research. Student research projects include studies of little spotted kiwi, forest bird songs, robin foraging behaviour, lake ecology, and the seasonality of flowering and fruiting of native trees and the birds that feed on them," he says.
Other research has informed and improved biodiversity management for conservation within the Sanctuary. Examples include work on the genetics of little spotted kiwi, on establishment and propagation of tuatara and Maud Island frogs, on lake water quality, and on the re-settlement of forest birds, such as the hihi, robin and whitehead.