AUT Living Laboratories, a project to restore native forest, has made the cut for inclusion and presentation at the UN Climate Action Assembly to be held in New York on September 23.
AUT Living Laboratories is a project to restore native forest throughout New Zealand by improving understanding of the unique characteristics of our native species, and best practice for partnering with Māori landowners.
The initiative adapts the Nature Based Solutions (NBS) framework to New Zealand’s unique native biodiversity and cultural context. NBS is a world-wide interdisciplinary programme of research, policy and education that uses nature to tackle socio-environmental challenges. AUT Living Laboratories has been included in an NBS Compendium to be presented at the UN Climate Action Summit.
For the first site, AUT has partnered with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei - Whai Maia on an experimental site at Pourewa Creek, Ōrākei which integrates ecological science and mātauranga Māori (indigenous knowledge).
Planting has begun with a goal of 12,000 native trees over 2019-2020. The planting is done in experimental plots and GIS mapped, so trees can be monitored for growth in different conditions. The multi-disciplinary AUT team lead by Associate Professor Hannah Buckley and Dr Brad Case of the School of Science, and Dr David Hall of the AUT Policy Observatory, have collected baseline data including soil and water profiles, the presence of biodiversity in flora and fauna such as earthworms and nematodes and drone imagery.
Dr Valance Smith from Te Ara Poutama, the AUT Faculty for Māori and Indigenous Development advises mātauranga Māori.
Dr Hall says, the project will also support the government’s One Billion Trees Programme by planting the right tree on the right site for the right purpose, given that NBS are a vital tool for integrated landscape approach which address the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.
Associate Professor Hannah-Buckley says there are two focus areas for the research: optimal planting regimes for speeding up the establishment of old-growth forest trees (including tōtara, rimu, matai, tawa, taraire, hinau, maire, kohekohe) to deliver multifunctional forests most effectively; and productive partnership models for landowners, especially Māori landowners, which integrates mātauranga Māori and illuminates the combined environmental, social and economic benefits of integrating NBS into agricultural systems.
Help is needed with planting. If you would like to volunteer, please register here.