A new Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), Bioprotection Aotearoa located at Lincoln University, has had its funding confirmed by the Tertiary Education Commission for 7.5 years, through to 2028.
Building on the existing Bio-Protection Research Centre (BPRC), the funding allows the centre to expand its current focus on scientific research in finding sustainable solutions to New Zealand’s pest and weed problems to include integrating with Mātauraka Māori and the social sciences.
Initially established in 2003, BPRC primarily focused on driving innovation in sustainable approaches to pest, pathogen and weed control.
BPRC conducts multidisciplinary research into fundamental aspects of plant protection and biosecurity to develop sustainable pest management solutions that support New Zealand’s positioning as a world-leading plant-based primary producer.
BPRC Director Professor Travis Glare said the funding announcement of the new centre is welcome news for the organisation, as well as good news for the country’s plant-based food producers.
“Biosecurity and plant protection are crucial to the future of New Zealand’s agriculture sector, as well as for our natural environment.
“This funding confirmation allows us to continue undertaking the research required to develop solutions to the pest and weed diseases that threaten our plant species, whether commercially cultivated or occurring naturally in the environment.”
A leading research scientist in soil health and biosecurity, Associate Professor Amanda Black, will join the Bioprotection Aotearoa team in June next year as co-director.
Part of Dr Black’s new role will be to guide the team in introducing a Māori values framework – Taiao – into the new centre’s remit.
“The Taiao perspective delivers an integrative and intergenerational approach in how we protect our productive landscapes from pathogens, pests, weeds and climate change.
“Our approach is a leap beyond the delivery of individual solutions, instead of focusing on holistic, systems-level solutions that recognise the connectedness between different components of the environment that underpin resilience.
“Our challenges are large-scale and systemic, and our work will take place within a uniquely indigenous framework that achieves intergenerational environmental sustainability through interwoven relationships with the land,” said Dr Black.
As well as bringing together New Zealand’s leading experts in bioprotection, the new CoRE, Bioprotection Aotearoa is committed to training the next generation of researchers.
Lincoln University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Edwards said the leading-edge research and development work being done currently by BPRC, and in future Bioprotection Aotearoa, depended on the quality of the people delivering it.
“Bioprotection Aotearoa research is led by outstanding scientists who are leaders in their respective fields and the quality of their work is highly respected all over the world. The research teams comprise a mix of the most highly qualified and innovative researchers across the country and internationally, as well as top postdoctoral scholars and postgraduate students.
“Today’s funding announcement ensures their collective efforts will continue to deliver benefits for the New Zealand economy and environment for generations to come.”
Bioprotection Aotearoa is a virtual organisation based at Lincoln University. It comprises 11 partner institutions – seven universities and four CRIs.
The partner institutions are Lincoln University, University of Canterbury, University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Waikato, Massey University, the University of Auckland, AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, Scion and Manaaki Whenua.
Source: Lincoln University