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  • Braided River Newsletter #29: 06 March 2017

    Posted on March 6, 2017 by in ARRG, Awards and funding, biology, Breeding, community partnerships, Ecology, Newsletters, Orari, Wilberforce River


    Thanks to everyone who pointed out the dozens (in fact hundreds) of broken links from our website to documents and pages that vanished when ECan rebuilt their website. It was an opportunity to update and restructure BRaid’s website. If you come across any errors that slipped through, I would appreciate it if you could let me know by sending me the page URL and an idea where on that page the error is. There’s also a new search engine that runs infinitely better then the previous model. Give it a whirl, you may be surprised what we have stashed away on our site (apologies for the occasional ‘Google Ad’ that appear: the price of ‘free’ software, I’m afraid!)

    Species de-extinction and bioe-ngineered predator control?

    This topic has been around for a few years, but discussion have ramped up about the role of bio-engineering in conservation. Last October, Katsuhiko Hayashi at Kyushu University in Japan, successfully created over 4,000 mature eggs from reprogrammed mouse skin cells. Eight healthy baby mice were born. Hayashi now wants to use the same technique to recover extinct species. With the  CRISPR (gene editing tool) patent issue resolved last week, the inherent problem of de-extincting a species from a limited gene pool can also can be overcome. This raises ethical and ecological questions long since explored by science fiction writers (think Jurassic Park). So too have the implications of bio-engineering a lethal gene to eradicate a pest species. Neither of these disruptive technologies solve the issues that created the ecological problems now facing us (up to 50% of all species may be extinct by the end of the century), but they may offer a cost effective way of buying time for at-risk species. This topic will feature in the upcoming Crazy and Ambitious – National Sciences Challenge Conference at Te Papa in May. Opinions are bound to be polarising but the technology is already here, so it’s well past time to start the conversation – I’ve added a few links to relevant papers, below.

    Sonny Whitelaw

    Congratulations to Waikuku Beach Farm, Trustpower, Fulton-Hogan, and Craigmore Farm for achieving bronze accreditation, and Taggarts for achieving silver accreditation under the terms of the Braided Rivers Partnership Project. These levels of accreditation recognise the practical efforts made by the recipients to help reverse the decline in braided river bird numbers. While accreditation goes to the commercial organisation, many individuals in those organisations and also partner organisations and volunteer groups including ECan, DOC, the Ashley-Rakahuri Rivercare Group and the Orari River Protection Group, were also involved. We’re looking forward to an even better outcome in 2017.

    Braided Rivers Seminar 2017: Like the 2016 Workshop, this is a free, full day event including lunch. As the last workshop was standing room only, and we were oversubscribed with presenters, I recommend booking sooner rather than later – more than half the seats have now been taken.

    #TheFlockNZ: If you are working with schools or community/art groups, now is the time to be thinking about creating a bigger and better (and more robust if we can get more people using wooden birds) Flock for the next season. All of the resources necesary, from templates to a PDF teaching resource tied to the curriculum, are available here. We encourage people and groups to create and display your own Flocks. BRaid’s role is to support and help empower groups and people working to help braided rivers and braided river birds., so we’re  delighted when groups such as the Twizel contingent take an idea like #TheFlockNZ and run with it in a direction that’s best suited to their situation.

    What’s happening to the Canterbury Water Management Strategy? Along with ECan’s upgraded website is a new way of finding data on freshwater and rivers, via Canterbury maps. For example, check out these links:


    Publicise your event!

    Don’t forget to publicise your event on BRaid’s online calendar of events If you remind me a week or so ahead, I’ll also promote it through our social media network. This is FREE publicity, so take advantage of it!

    Other news and stories:

    BRaid’s next meeting: Friday 3.00pm 24 March at the DOC offices, 31 Ngai Mahi Road, Sockburn.

    Membership Renewal for 2016/2017 was due September. If you are not already a member of BRaid, you can join as a General, Casual, or Representative member. General Membership is a modest $20/annum, giving you voting rights and the opportunity to have a say in BRaid’s activities.

    Thanks to those who have contributed to this newsletter. Please keep news items coming.

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