20 March 2019 -  Listen to this radio interview to learn more about how Conservation Evidence can be used to help New Zealand make environmental decisions. Professor William Sutherland (one of our collaborators at University of Cambridge, UK) explains to Jesse Mulligan at Radio New Zealand why he set up Conservation Evidence and how his team are advancing it's development. The Conservation Evidence database and its underlying protocols were critical resources informing our own biodiversity tool design.  


20 Nov 2018 - The Ministry for Primary Industries and Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research (Wellington) hosted our seminar demonstrating our prototype biodiversity tool which provides live predictions of the biodiversity benefits of a suite of farming practices.  We also outlined the process which identified specific farming practices and aspects of biodiversity relevant to NZ farms, and then linked farming practice to impacts on biodiversity for land and aquatic habitats.  Building on international work in Conservation Evidence and with the Cool Farm Alliance, this tool makes expert science accessible in a practical way. We reviewed the lessons learnt from the co-design process and invite discussion to build on the advances made. The presentation slides are available here.


15 Oct 2018 – Our pilot study exploring how global scientific evidence can be locally adapted for use in New Zealand was completed. A BIG THANK YOU to our six biodiversity experts (from various NZ institutes) who helped us quantify the effectiveness of two farm management actions in enhancing several biodiversity groups. Studies derived from the Conservation Evidence database were scored by the specialists individually and anonymously in multiple rounds to reach a consensus on how beneficial a given action was for each biodiversity group. This structured assessment process was originally developed by the University of Cambridge for evaluating global evidence.

17 Sep 2018 – WATCH this 13-min video for an overview of our biodiversity tool co-design process and results; this presentation was recorded as part of the Biosecurity Bonanza workshop hosted by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research in Christchurch. Workshop attendees included biosecurity and biodiversity managers, consultants and researchers from local and national government agencies, private sector and community groups. Local council agencies indicated their interest in using the tool and adapting its components for their own purposes.  


7 Sep 2018 – We provided the Regional Council Biodiversity Working Group with an update on the biodiversity tool developments, inviting their feedback on the tool design and potential applications. The group indicated their interest in the tool, recognising in particular its potential to assist land managers within their respective organisations. 

11 Jul 2018 – The Southland Environmental Advanced Party (involving 10 livestock farmers based around Gore) invited us to introduce and discuss our prototype tool. Overall feedback was positive: the tool was easy to use and saved them time looking for the information. The group envisaged using the tool primarily for self-assessments of performance but were also interested to see how they were doing relative to others in a similar context. They were also keen to support future tool developments – recommendations for improvement included increasing the tool resolution, linking to other farm management tools and relevant educational resources to help their planning (e.g. what species are recommended for planting in their area). 



26 June 2018 – We delivered a proof-of-concept for co-designing a locally-adapted tool -  our prototype tool (version 1.3.2) for biodiversity assessments on NZ farms is launched and ready for the last bit of fine tuning. Learn more about our prototype tool and who helped us co-design it.

8 June 2018 - We were invited to present our online biodiversity assessment tool to the Deer Industry NZ's Passion2Profit’s Environmental Stewardship Theme Group; this advisory group are responsible for developing the industry's environmental code of practice and long-term strategy. This was a great opportunity to pilot test our prototype tool and get some preliminary feedback on its design and how to improve it.



19-20 April 2018 – We were invited to give two presentations at the Cool Farm Alliance Annual Meeting at the University of Cambridge, UK. We provided a brief introduction to our work to c. 50 members of the Cool Farm Alliance (including Mars, Pepsico and the Sustainability Consortium). Then, as part of a workshop on biodiversity tool developments, we demonstrated how the Cool Farm Biodiversity Tool concept could be adapted to meet specific regional needs. Workshop attendees included international corporations (e.g. Tescos, Syngenta), sustainability assessment schemes (e.g. LEAF), various consultancies and research organisations. 

18 April 2018 – We met with the Conservation Evidence team based at the University of Cambridge, UK, to invite their peer review of our NZ biodiversity tool developments to-date; our work was positively received with the team being impressed with the progress made in the space of a year. Parallels in our thinking about the processes for synthesising, evaluating and getting better uptake of evidence were evident, with strong support for ongoing collaboration so NZ can continue to contribute to and benefit from the Conservation Evidence database concept.



16 April 2018 – The Agribusiness Group helped us to review and refine our checklist of farm management actions – aiming to make sure that the management actions are locally relevant and easily understood by the tool users.

20 March 2018 –Check out our 2-min video ‘Tell the NZ biodiversity story – what goes into our tool?’ to find out what you and other stakeholders considered most useful for inclusion in our prototype tool for biodiversity assessments on NZ farms. Full report available here.

8 March 2018 – Thirty-one stakeholders around the country were invited to review a draft report summarising the discussion and outcomes of our prioritisation workshop – to ensure both workshop attendees and other parties who have supported our biodiversity tool development to-date had a chance to comment on the report before it was finalised. 


26 February 2018 – THANKS TO OUR 20 WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS for engaging in some lively discussion at our prioritisation workshop hosted by the Ministry for Environment in Wellington. The group consensus was to prioritise 10 biodiversity groups and 35 management actions for inclusion in the tool now, with some of those actions flagged for further discussion and refinement. Supporting documents and presentations for the workshop can be accessed here.

13-15 February 2018 – We invited our NZ Sustainability Dashboard colleagues to review our biodiversity tool developments to-date in preparation for our upcoming stakeholder workshop. Drawing on the wider NZSD team’s experience in building and implementing sustainability assessment tools for a range of sectors, we also started to scope potential governance strategies to optimise tool uptake and resilience.



12 February 2018 – We shared our ideas for developing evidence-based tools at a ‘Future Challenge Research and Funding’ Roadshow for Our Land & Water National Science Challenge in Dunedin. Our presentation highlighted how our proof-of-concept approach to developing a biodiversity assessment tool can be adapted to address other environmental issues. 

7 February 2018
 - We are busy preparing for our upcoming prioritisation workshop on 26 Feb 2018. Sixteen members of our stakeholder advisory panel have confirmed they will attend. At this workshop, hosted by the Ministry for Environment, we will complete the first step in developing a prototype biodiversity assessment tool for NZ farms. We are looking forward to a lively discussion with our stakeholder advisors who work across 12 different organisations including various industry bodies, NGOs, consultants and government agencies.

26 January 2018 - The NZ Sustainability Dashboard team are invited to attend the ‘Cool Farm Alliance Annual Meeting 2018’ at Cambridge University in the UK (19-20 April). At this meeting, we will provide the Cool Farm Alliance and its members (which include a wide range of international multi-corporate organisations, consultants and NGOs) with an update on our biodiversity assessment tool development for NZ farms. It will be also be an opportunity to learn about related Cool Farm Tool developments and how our tool development can benefit from lessons learnt.



19 January 2018 - We hosted an online meeting with the Conservation Evidence team based at Cambridge University. Their researchers are helping us to plan the next step in our tool development process: working with a specialist panel to quantify the expected biodiversity benefits of different management actions based on a combination of judgement and evidence evaluation.

13 December 2017
 - We are delighted to announce that Ministry for Environment will host our upcoming prioritisation workshop on 26 Feb 2018. At this workshop, our stakeholders will help us decide what goes into our prototype tool. 


11 December 2017 - Twenty organisations involved in our online prioritisation exercise are invited to review our prioritised suite of biodiversity and management action groups for inclusion in the prototype tool. These preliminary priorities will be discussed and finalised with a panel of stakeholder advisors at workshop in February 2018; the priorities were identified on the basis of an online prioritisation exercise involving 20 organisations that covered a broad range of stakeholder roles (industry, government, non-government and consultants) as well as a shorter online survey of over 200 farmers/growers and other interested parties. 

23 November 2017 - THANK YOU TO ALL OUR SURVEY PARTICIPANTS TO-DATE!  Over 140 people have taken part in our 'biodiversity tool survey' so far - representing a wide range of sectors, regions and perspectives. At the same time, another 20 biodiversity managers, advisors and consultants across New Zealand have completed a more detailed survey, ranking comprehensive lists of biodiversity groups and actions according to their usefulness and relevance. We are busy analysing your responses to inform the next stage in the tool development process - deciding which biodiversity groups and management actions to prioritise for inclusion in the tool.


30 October 2017 - Our biodiversity tool webpage is launched, with an invitation to stakeholders to help us initiate the biodiversity tool development starting with our online survey!


3 October 2017– We have developed an online survey for stakeholders to determine what to include in a farm biodiversity tool for NZ. Farmers, growers, industry bodies, biodiversity managers, advisors and consultants can take this survey to help prioritise which species and management actions are included in the tool, as well as their preferences for how farm data are stored and re-used in reporting.

19 September 2017 –  We have completed the process of scoping candidate lists of species groups and farm management actions to include in the tool.

31 August 2017 – We attended a Beef + Lamb New Zealand workshop in Wellington where we introduced the biodiversity tool idea and how members could be involved in co-designing the tool. We discussed preliminary results of a recent survey of Beef + Lamb New Zealand farmers, staff, directors and associates, which explored their biodiversity interests and comfort with different data sharing strategies, as well as insights into the types of management actions currently implemented on sheep and beef farms. Overall there was strong interest in the evidence-based tool concept and support for its development.



31 August 2017 – We presented an introduction to the biodiversity tool idea and research process to the Te Ao Tūroa (Dunedin Environmental Strategy) Partnership in Dunedin. This talk also highlighted how the tool could support their strategy and how they could contribute directly to support the tool development to help ensure it meets their needs. The partnership indicated their support for the tool development including facilitating stakeholder input via their local networks.

26-28 June 2017 – We presented an introduction to the biodiversity tool idea to the Organic Winegrowers Conference  in Blenheim and explained how winegrowers could participate in the tool’s development.  Watch the presentation on Youtube.



23 May 2017 – We presented an introduction to the evidence-based tool and co-design process at the Biosecurity Bonanza workshop hosted by Landcare Research in Whangarei. 

16-17 March 2017 – We attended the Cool Farm Alliance annual general meeting in Oxford, UK, to represent the NZ Sustainability Dashboard (a new member of CFA) and gain insight into developments within the Cool Farm Tool modules for sustainability assessment. We learned how the Tool is being used by local businesses and international corporations (e.g. Tescos, Unilever) and integrated into other sustainability assessment platforms (e.g. Sustainable Agriculture Initiative). The CFA meeting enabled us to begin exploring opportunities to adapt the industry platform for sustainable agriculture metric development and use for NZ farming sectors. We also participated in a workshop on data ethics, ownership and use.


23 February 2017 – We ran a workshop for the Regional Council Biodiversity Working Group and Queen Elizabeth II National Trust in Wellington to introduce the evidence-based biodiversity tool idea and how it can be developed through a co-design process with stakeholders, similarly to the Cool Farm Biodiversity Tool. Regional council and Queen Elizabeth II National Trust representatives expressed a high level of interest in an online evidence-based calculator that would allow NZ farmers to self-assess the management actions they take to enhance biodiversity. They also agreed on the need for an evidence database (akin to the Cambridge Conservation Evidence Database) that is relevant to NZ.