© WWF / Weaver Creative

New Zealand's environment is in crisis, so business as usual isn't an option. Every year WWF-New Zealand seeks out game-changing ideas that will change the face of conservation, as part of the Conservation Innovation Awards.

2017's winners have now been selected and prizes were awarded at a ceremony on 22nd November. Check out the highlights from the night in the video below.

And the winners are...

Thermal Animal Detection Systems (TADS)

© Vinny Ritossa / The Way Studios

Using a helicopter, the military grade, thermal imaging TADS system can quickly cover difficult terrain and large forested areas and has the ability to detect 90 - 100% of a target invasive pest population (goats, deer and pigs).

The judging panel was very impressed by TADS as it has huge potential to reduce costs and improve the effectiveness of managing ungulates in conservation reserves and offshore islands and could be used to monitor endangered native species.

“We’re so excited to win this Award,” said winner Jordan Munn from Upper Hutt’s Trap and Trigger. “This financial help is the boost we need to finish the product and get it into the air working perfectly.”

E.coli water sensor

© Pete Nikolaison

Wairarapa-based Water Action Initiative New Zealand (WAI NZ) is developing a water-borne E. coli contamination sensor that can give community members and regional councils a tool to monitor freshwater in real-time, providing immediate detection of increased E.coli levels so that swifter action can be taken.

The judging panel believes the sensor will revolutionise how freshwater can be tested with wider benefits for ecosystem health.

Winner Grant Muir said: “We want to see all NZ rural and urban water catchments protected and enhanced for future generations, so winning this Award is such a boost with a pathway to refine, develop and manufacture the sensor”.

Grid-i Pest detective

© Ethan Bryant

The Grid-i innovation, developed by Wellington electronic design enthusiast Gerald Dickinson, combines thermal imaging and artificial intelligence software to identify and monitor specific invasive mammal pests like rats and possums.

Having the ability to move away from current indiscriminate pest removal methods and target specific species more accurately will be widely beneficial for conservation operations working towards a Predator Free New Zealand 2050. The judging panel was excited as this technology has great potential for eradication operations to locate and remove the last few pests from an area.

“This Award opens up many new doors where we can finally come out of a backyard garage to progress Grid-i as an advanced and more affordable predator management tool,” Mr Dickinson said.

© Squawk Squad

Special Commendation: Squawk Squad


It was so close that we decided to award this year, for the first time, a special commendation to Squawk Squad.

Using fun and interactive school campaigns, Squawk Squad is an exciting idea from passionate young Kiwis who got 40,000 kids and 800 schools involved in conservation in one week. Kiwi kids are the future of conservation in New Zealand, so as our 2017 special commendation, we’re keen to work with Squawk Squad to maximize their conservation potential.

Big Bold Ideas

Check out the fantastic ideas submitted through our innovative crowdsourcing website, which brings together inventors, conservationists and inquiring minds to propose and refine ideas in real time.

This year, prizes were awarded in three categories:

Engaging young people and communities
 Predator Free New Zealand 2050
Open Category

Check all the 2017 innovations
© Louisa McKerrow

Our sponsors

The 2017 Conservation Innovation Awards are made possible by the generosity of The Tindall Foundation, the Department of Conservation, Predator Free 2050, Callaghan Innovation and New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge.

Previous winners

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