CAREX team wins freshwater conservation award

01 December 2017

The Canterbury Waterway Rehabilitation Experiment (CAREX), of the University of Canterbury’s School of Biological Sciences, has been recognised for improving freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem health in agricultural waterways with a prestigious award.

  • HayleyDevlin_NWS_block

    CAREX research technician Hayley Devlin works in a farm waterway in Canterbury, investigating nuisance aquatic weeds that cause flooding, fine sediment pollution and biodiversity problems in agricultural waterways.

The Canterbury Waterway Rehabilitation Experiment (CAREX) team was awarded the 2017 Award and Trophy at the Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board (CACB) annual awards ceremony this week.

CAREX, of the University of Canterbury’s School of Biological Sciences, has been recognised for improving freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem health in agricultural waterways with the prestigious award. CAREX ( is a solutions-focused research programme aimed at improving freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem health in agricultural waterways.

The University of Canterbury-based CAREX team is made up of 15 freshwater ecologists, technicians and students – including Mackenzie Foundation Chair in Freshwater Ecology Professor Angus McIntosh, Professor of Freshwater Ecology Jon Harding, and postdoctoral researcher Dr Catherine Febria – and involves nine farm waterways from Rangiora to Hinds. Key members of the team include Dr Kristy Hogsden, Dr Helen Warburton, research technician Hayley Devlin, and postgraduate students Katie Collins, Brandon Goeller and Tim Green.

“CAREX conducts this research on working farms to develop solutions that reflect scenarios typical of agricultural waterways in Waitaha Canterbury and Aotearoa New Zealand,” Dr Febria says.

The $2000 prize from the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust will be used to further a key component of CAREX: science communication. 

CAREX will generate:

  • a freshwater-farm biodiversity resource kit that can be taken to schools and local community events
  • free online resources based on evidence-based in-stream restoration tools and riparian management strategies
  • a series of workshops and field days focused on showcasing the tools and demonstration sites to the farming community, stakeholders and other potential end users.

CAREX aims to share the science conducted across a network of Canterbury farms to demonstrate the importance of partnerships between science and the communities as a critical pathway for improving and advancing freshwater and farm management.

Dr Febria says the team has undertaken multi-year trials, created demonstration sites and established a robust network of partnerships that includes 23 landowners and farm managers, more than 60 collaborators (scientists, engineers and stakeholders) across Environment Canterbury, rūnanga, central government, district councils, crown research institutes, conservation groups (including Fish & Game NZ) and industry (including Fonterra and DairyNZ).

Since 2013, CAREX has:

  • added more than 16,000 native plants to farm waterways
  • trialled different tools to reduce fine sediments and manage flooding due to aquatic weeds
  • installed the first denitrification bioreactors in Canterbury to reduce nitrate pollution
  • shown how habitat additions improve fish and invertebrate communities in otherwise degraded waterways.

About the awards

The Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board (CACB) annual awards recognise the efforts of local groups and individuals in supporting conservation within the wider Canterbury region. The theme for 2017 was Fresh Water – Every Drop Counts, which highlights the importance of fresh water, as well as the excellent work happening across Canterbury. The CACB is an advisory board of the Department of Conservation (DOC), which comprises of ministerial appointees, representatives from recreational organisations and iwi.

For further information please contact:

Margaret Agnew, Senior External Relations Advisor, University of Canterbury
Phone: +64 3 369 3631 | Mobile: +64 275 030
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