Our Changing World
Thursday 6 March 2014, with Alison Ballance, Ruth Beran & Veronika Meduna
9:06 pm Thursday 13 March: Our Changing World
Blenheim-based clean-tech company CarbonScape has developed and patented microwave technology to convert biomass such as forestry waste into carbon products, including activated carbon and coking fuel. Veronika Meduna visits as the company is preparing to supply green coke to New Zealand Steel to help reduce carbon emissions in steel production.
Each week during summer Greater Wellington Council tests water quality at key river and coastal swimming sites around Wellington and in the Wairarapa. Alison Ballance joins Summer Greenfield and Shyam Mora on the Hutt River to see how it’s done, and then follows a water sample to the microbiology lab at Eurofins ELS where Sunita Raju shows her how it will be tested for the presence of E. coli.
Few people know of Tom Crean, an Irishman who survived three expeditions to Antarctica, serving with legendary explorers Scott and Shackleton, and received a medal for his bravery in saving two of his comrades. In his solo performance, Irish actor Aidan Dooley brings to life the story of Antarctica’s forgotten hero.
On This Programme
Technology meets Conservation
Solar panels provide the energy to run the network of wi-fi hotspots and time-lapse cameras collect footage from a ridge near the coast of Abel Tasman National Park. From left to right are Chris Rodley from SnapitHD and Daniel Bar Even and Peter Handford from Groundtruth. (image: V Meduna)
Project Janszoon is a privately funded group working to restore the ecology of Abel Tasman National Park, in partnership with the Department of Conservation. With the help of funding from a philanthropic New Zealand family trust, the project has begun a pest control programme that includes stoat trapping and the removal of wilding pines.
As a next step, the project team plans to plant key species such as rata and milkwood, and reintroduce birds that are now missing or in low numbers in the park, including kaka, kakariki, brown teal and mohua.
With the help of two science-based companies, Groundtruth and SnapitHD, the project recently established a network of wi-fi hotspots and set up time-lapse cameras to provide a virtual visitor’s centre. The network allows visitors to access information about the weather, tides, points of interest, history and wildlife on the project’s website or through a free smart phone app. The wireless technology also means that visitors can listen to a live link of birdsong from the pest-free Adele Island and view footage of Adele Island and Anchorage.
For the project’s director, businessman Devon McLean, this is a homecoming. Having grown up in the area, he has returned to spend his retirement helping to transform the ecology of the park over the next three decades, leading up to the December 2042 celebration of the 400th anniversary of Abel Janszoon Tasman’s visit to New Zealand, and the centenary of the formation of Abel Tasman National Park.
Testing for Legionnaires’ Disease
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal type of pneumonia caused by a strain of bacteria known as legionella. It is not airborne and cannot be transmitted from person to person. While Legionnaires’ disease is commonly thought of as being associated with water, such as in cooling towers, most cases in New Zealand are contracted from gardening activities.
Legionnaires’ disease presents like pneumonia, and while different antibiotics are used to treat the disease, it is not possible to determine what a patient has simply by looking at X-rays. The traditional way to determine if a patient has Legionnaires’ disease is to culture bacteria from sputum (left), but more recently PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are also commonly used. Since PCR tests detect DNA, they can determine the presence of legionella bacteria at far lower quantities than culture alone.
A collaboration between Canterbury Health Laboratories, the clinicians at Christchurch Hospital, and the University of Otago, Christchurch, has meant that every person admitted to the hospital with pneumonia is now also routinely screened for Legionnaires’ disease. This novel approach to testing has resulted in a fourfold increase in confirmed cases of the disease when the two years prior to testing are compared with the two years once testing started. The next step is to try and determine what specific activities may be causing the contraction of the disease, by questioning patients as well as those in the general population, as well as rolling this type of testing out to other parts of the country. Ruth Beran speaks with clinical microbiologist David Murdoch and infectious disease clinician Stephen Chambers from the University of Otago, Christchurch to find out why the right diagnosis is so important, and Ros Podmore from Canterbury Health Laboratories shows her what legionella looks like under the microscope.
Blue cod (left and right photos), butterfish (centre) and paua (right) quickly increase in numbers and size when protected in a marine reserve. All photos taken in the Taputeranga Marine Reserve by Malcolm Francis.
New Zealand’s first fully protected marine reserve was created in 1975 at Goat Island near Leigh. The Minister of Conservation’s announcement on 2 March 2014 that three new marine reserves around Bounty, Antipodes and Campbell islands in the subantarctic had come into effect brings the total to 37. Six more reserves will be created during 2014 - five on the West Coast and one at Akaroa - bringing the total number of marine reserves in New Zealand to 43.
‘No take’ marine reserves that are created under the Marine Reserves Act 1971 (a new marine reserves bill has been stalled for a few years but may come before the House this year) are a type 1 Marine Protected Area, or MPA. As well, there are currently 16 type 2 MPAs, some of which are full no-take and some of which are only partially protected. These include marine parks, some cable and pipeline closure zones and some fisheries closures.
In this programme to mark Seaweek Alison Ballance talks with Jonathan Gardner at Victoria University about his involvement in the creation of Taputeranga Marine Reserve in Wellington. She then joins a team (left) from Waikato University, the Department of Conservation and Victoria University, carrying out monitoring in the Kapiti Island marine reserve, north of Wellington, and talks with Phil Ross, PhD student Alix LaFerrierre, Shane Geange and DoC ranger Dave Wrightson. She also catches up with Chris Battershill, who holds the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chair in Coastal Science at Waikato University. We hear from everyone in the programme how marine life in no take marine reserves in New Zealand shows a very positive response to protection.
Government policy has a target of protecting 10% of New Zealand’s marine environment in a network of representative marine protected areas. This matches the United Nations Environment Program’s International Convention on Biological Diversity target of 10% global ocean protection by 2020.
So how are we going? It depends on what kind of marine protected Area or MPA you mean – a full no-take marine reserve or some other level of protection – and whether, for marine environment, you consider just territorial waters out to the 12 nautical mile limit, or whether you include all waters in our complete Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ, out to 200 nautical miles.
Minister of Conservation Nick Smith’s press release on the new subantarctic marine reserves says they will expand the proportion of our territorial sea that is protected to 9.5%, close to the target of 10%. However, as a proportion of our entire marine environment the figures don’t look quite so good – just over 0.4% of our more than 4 million square kilometre EEZ is protected in marine reserves, or just over 0.55% if you also include the 16 type-2 MPAs.
Invertebrates, including octopuses (centre), and marine algae also benefit from being in a marine reserve. All photos taken in the Taputeranga Marine Reserve by Malcolm Francis.
A recent scientific paper in Marine Policy identified that the New Zealand public thinks that, on average, 36% of their marine environment should be protected. However, if you take out the massive marine reserves around the Kermadecs and subantarctic islands, just 3% of our current marine reserves are located around the coasts of North, South and Stewart islands. That 3% protects just 0.3% of our mainland coastal waters. Otago still has no marine reserves at all, although a community forum was established in 2013 to come up with proposals for marine reserves in the region.. At the rate we’re going it’ll be hundreds of years before we have a good representative network of marine reserves covering 10% of our mainland coastline.
A recent paper in Biological Conservation by long-time marine reserve advocate Bill Ballantine is a good overview of fifty years of progress in New Zealand, and outlines what is needed to create a good representative network of marine reserves. Conservation organisations such as WWF and Pew Foundation are advocating for a larger marine reserve network, including large sanctuaries in New Zealand's EEZ, such as the Kermadecs.
Monitoring recreational swimming water quality in the Hutt River, green innovation at CarbonScape and Tom Crean, the forgotten Antarctic hero.
Audio from Thursday 6 March 2014
Not all audio is available due to copyright restrictions.
Conservation and Technology ( 15′ 9″ )
21:06 Project Janszoon uses wi-fi hotspots and an app to provide a virtual visitor's centre in Abel Tasman National Park.
Testing for Legionnaires' Disease ( 12′ 54″ )
21:20 A new approach to testing for Legionnaires' disease in Canterbury has resulted in a fourfold increase in confirmed cases
Marine Reserves in New Zealand ( 27′ 5″ )
21:34 Marine reserves, how marine life responds to protection and how much progress New Zealand is making in protecting 10% of its marine environment