Evidence-based policy in an age of alternative facts: the life of a chief science advisor in New Zealand

Prof Ken Hughey recently commenced his 3rd year as Chief Science Advisor (CSA) for New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC). In this talk, he will give insight into the work of the DOC, which manages one third of NZ’s land area, is responsible for national parks and reserves, indigenous species conservation, marine mammals, marine reserves and for freshwater native species.
The DOC has a number of major goals including ridding NZ of introduced predators (Predator Free NZ 2050), restoration of NZ rivers, and engaging with the public of the country. It faces a number of challenges, associated with the country’s continued development and unprecendented tourism growth, which place pressure on the environment.

Much of the DOC’s work involves partnering – with other government departments, with external researchers, with industry, NGOs and with the Crown’s Treaty Partner: Maori. In all of these areas the Chief Science Advisor reports directly to Director-General – he is independent and asked to provide frank and robust science advice to inform policy and decision making. Within this frame there are contestations and tensions, within the Department and between organisations.

Ken will give examples of key work areas, e.g., cage diving with great white sharks, aquaculture management, kauri die back, ‘Battle for our birds’, and the 20 year conservation and environment science roadmap – he will demonstrate how the role of CSA can be influential but also how it is challenging, to say the least.

About the speaker
Ken Hughey is Professor of Environmental Management at Lincoln University, Christchurch, New Zealand currently on secondment to the Department of Conservation. His areas of specialty include freshwater ecology and management, the economics of endangered species management, sustainable tourism, peoples’ perceptions of the state of the NZ environment and participatory approaches to sustainable management. He has been an academic for over 20 years and published in excess of 60 scientific journal articles.