15 Oct 2012

Plea for science funding to target biodiversity

6:26 am on 15 October 2012

An agricultural science commentator says biodiversity should be included in the list of priorities for a new public science funding programme.

The Government is committing $60 million to a national science challenges programme.

It will ask the public to help identify 10 or so big challenges that are crucial for New Zealand's future.

Over time, much of New Zealand's contracted public science funding will be channelled into addressing those core issues.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says big science challenges could include the issue of how to intensify agriculture while improving the environment.

Agricultural & Horticultural Science Institute past president John Lancashire said biodiversity should also be near the top of the list.

He said despite many localised community efforts biodiversity on mainland New Zealand continues a pretty catastrophic decline.

"We can't hide the fact we've totally failed to solve the conflict between farming, industrial development, population growth, the range of imported pests and a healthy biodiversity."

Mr Lancashire said solving that will be an enormous future challenge.