$10 million battle to save the lakes
“[Governments should] promote the rehabilitation and restoration of damaged ecosystems and the recovery of threatened and endangered species...”
Article 15.5(h), Agenda 21, United Nations Earth Summit, 1992.
Waikato University biologists are at the heart of a massive scheme to research and save the country’s lakes.
The programme, focusing on the Rotorua Lakes but which will have nationwide application, has $10 million over 10 years to research the threats posed by algal blooms, pest fish and other invasive species – and how to address those threats.
Professors Bruce Clarkson, David Hamilton and Associate Professor Brendan Hicks are running the programme, which has input from regional councils, community groups, the water industry and other organisations as it is those groups who will ultimately benefit from the research work.
Native fish and plants are in decline in most New Zealand lakes. Not only do pest fish and invasive weeds outcompete native species, they also alter the environment to cause proliferation of harmful algal blooms. Toxic algal blooms have in some cases resulted in water supply closure, cattle deaths and closures of lakes for recreational activities.
Researchers have quickly developed monitoring tools to detect and understand more about the blooms. That work is already paying off in China, where University of Waikato scientists are using their technology in Taihu Lake to provide information about blooms of blue-green algae which affect drinking water supplies for more than 5 million people.
External funding gratefully acknowledged: Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.
MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM LED BY THE CENTRE FOR BIODIVERSITY AND ECOLOGY RESEARCH, FACULTY OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING