SDG #15 Life on Land

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Home of world-leading experts in soil science, ecology and biodiversity

An abundant 'living lab' in our backyard ripe for scientific exploration

Committed to blending western science with indigenous knowledge - mātauranga Māori

We are enormously proud of our researchers who are helping to mitigate human impacts on our natural environment and restore biodiversity for future generations to enjoy, blending western science with indigenous knowledge. We have a thriving post-graduate programme and are fortunate to have a rich and varied ‘living lab’ on our doorstep which includes caves, volcanoes, wetlands, dense forests and abundant wetlands. These provide incredible opportunities for our staff and students.

A few things we are especially proud of

Our rich offerings for undergraduate and graduate students to learn about life above land in areas including geography, earth sciences, hydrology, ecology and biodiversity, soil science, geology, and environmental sciences.

Professor Louis Schipper and the team at WaiBER who are progressing a raft of research projects focused on increasing soil carbon content and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Associate Professor Sandy Morrison who is a lead researcher in the Deep South Challenge focused on exploring how indigenous knowledge, alongside science, can help prepare communities for climate change impacts.

Dr Kiri Wallace’s work as the co-leader of the BioHeritage Eco-index team helping to reverse biodiversity decline in New Zealand and re-create ecosystems in our cities using a social justice lens.

Our ongoing efforts to secure Antarctica’s future as a key contributor to a $36m project announced in 2020 and Dr Tania O'Neil's Marsden Fast-Start grant to investigate pollutants in Antarctica through the foraging and nesting activities of Adélie penguins.

Dr Adele Williamson who was awarded a Rutherford Discovery fellowship in 2020 for her groundbreaking work looking at DNA repair systems of bacteria in challenging environments to help inform ecologists about climate change.

Bruce Clarkson

Greening our cities when we need it most

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of access to nature in our cities, towns and suburbs.  Urban ecologist Professor Bruce Clarkson knows too well the many benefits that come from green urban spaces, particularly those filled with indigenous flora and fauna.  These spaces restore vital biodiversity and support human health and wellbeing in many ways. Professor Clarkson leads an MBIE funded research project called People, Cities and Nature, which focuses on restoring indigenous nature in urban environments. His work has guided a city-wide gully restoration programme in Hamilton and the Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park near Hamilton Zoo over more than a decade.


Biodiversity on Campus

We have 2,500+ trees on our Hamilton Campus and 70+ New Zealand ferns. Our 65-hectare Hamilton campus is home to a wide variety of native and exotic flora and fauna including several groves of kahikatea and many other native trees, including rimu, tītoki, kauri, tōtara, miro, rewarewa, kōwhai, tī kōuka (cabbage tree), kāpuka (grisellinia), nīkau, and kānuka.


Monitoring the health of our environment with Artificial Intelligence

We have combined our longstanding expertise in data science and environmental science to keep better tabs on the state of our natural environment, so authorities can make informed decisions before it's too late. The MBIE-funded, $13 million project TAIAO, led by Professor Albert Bifet, collates environmental data from around the country and makes it available to scientists, ultimately so informed decisions can be made more quickly. The computer programme performs a range of tasks including detect algal blooms on waterways with minimal human involvement. It also checks DOC predator cameras and helps map at-risk trees using satellite imagery.


New tools for teachers about wetland ecology

Our Science Learning Hub partnered with Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research to create a series of bilingual, multimedia educational resources, based on contemporary New Zealand research into wetland ecology and restoration. The resources combine mātauranga Māori and western perspectives to build a sense of kaitiakitanga and help connect communities to their wetlands.

Margaret Barbour

Finding clues about climate change in plants

We welcomed leading plant physiologist, Professor Margaret Barbour to lead the School of Science in late 2019.  Professor Barbour has a particular passion for plants and the movement of water through leaves to better understand past environmental change and help inform climate change predictions.