The Drive for Environmental Sustainability

The drive for environmental sustainability demands the ability to apply knowledge across a broad front – ecosystems, agriculture, industrial processes, planning and regulatory processes.

The University of Waikato has developed strong research platforms in biodiversity and natural ecosystems that are taking our researchers and their colleagues from other institutions into the field to undertake work as diverse and complex as restoration of the Rotorua Lakes to an International Polar Year investigation into biocomplexity in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica.

Sustainable soils, rich in minerals and microbial diversity, is just one focus of a wide range of research to support the demands of an agricultural economy seeking to add value, whether through intensification or a move to organics.

Making more efficient use of resources in industrial processes – from energy efficiency in the dairy industry to the use of industrial waste material for titanium alloy production – is another broadranging area of the University’s research that is contributing to environmental sustainability.

Sustainability planning and regulation is an area in which the University of Waikato brings a wealth of expertise from the Waikato Management School to the Faculty of Law and to the International Global Change Centre, a research group within the University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering that embraces an interdisciplinary approach to climate change and environment issues and has non-governmental organisation (NGO) status at the United Nations.

Antarctica a diversity of life in waiting
Antarctica’s Dry Valleys have long been regarded as the closest thing on Earth to the surface of Mars – a cold, lifeless desert.

Restoring the Life to Native Forest Remnants
Patches of native forest on farm land will have richer ecosystems thanks to the University of Waikato’s Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology Research.

Restoring a City's Natural Ecosystems
Biodiversity loss has been greatest in or near New Zealand’s cities where development has often resulted in total landscape transformations, but the magnitude of this loss has been recognised only in recent years.

Battle to Save the 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.

Are New Zealand Pastures Gaining Or Losing Carbon and Nitrogen
In New Zealand, pastures originally converted from forest are now subject to more intensive stocking and increasing fertiliser use. We know very little about how this intensification of land use has altered the amounts of carbon and nitrogen stored in the soil. Associate Professor Louis Schipper (Earth and Ocean Sciences) and colleagues from Landcare Research and GNS Science have been measuring soil carbon and nitrogen at 65+ pastures sites around New Zealand, and comparing their information with data recorded from the same pastures around 20 years ago.

Soil Microbial Diversity, Composting And Enrichment
A major research platform in microbial genes and enzymes at the University of Waikato’s Biological Sciences Department has led to a large number of fundamental and applied projects investigating soil microbes and composting processes for a variety of purposes.

From Energy Savings To Export Competitiveness
The University is building an externally-funded research team with high-level engineering expertise which has a particular focus on industrial energy efficiency and could help the wood, meat, steel and dairy industries make energy savings.

Titanium Alloys
Titanium alloys are light, strong and high in value, and are used extensively in aerospace and aviation, chemical processing, manufacturing, and in consumer goods.

Sustainability: Are Businesses Walking The Talk?
As more and more people embrace sustainability, Dr Eva Collins, Professor Stewart Lawrence and Professor Juliet Roper are carrying out New Zealand’s first longitudinal study into how organisational practices in businesses are keeping up.

Protected Areas And International Law
Professor Al Gillespie is probably one of the few law professors who travels on a diplomatic passport. His speciality is conservation and he works on international panels to protect endangered animals and some of the most spectacular and threatened parts of the planet.

The Economic Way To Cleaner Water
Good farm practice isn’t going to be enough to bring our rivers and lakes up to the water quality that most of us want. Farm run-off and leaching into groundwater cause serious pollution, but no-one can agree on the best way to share the burden of reducing nitrogen discharges.

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