Nationwide interest in EPA water programme


Over 200 community groups, hapū and kura around the country have signed up to the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) nationwide environmental DNA (eDNA) programme – Wai Tūwhera o te Taiao – Open Waters Aotearoa.

The EPA’s Chief Scientist, Professor Mike Bunce, says to manage the high level of interest, groups are being coordinated by region with the help of regional councils, NZ Landcare Trust advisors and other national coordinators of water care groups.

“Our vision is to build bridges between people and nature through offering community groups and hapū access to a new tool for their kete, to help them learn more about a river, lake, estuary or wetland that is important to them.”

“This programme is a great opportunity for science and mātauranga to be woven together to discover the potentials of environmental DNA (eDNA) as a tool for species discovery, environmental monitoring and protection.”

By sampling just a litre of water, groups capture remnants of DNA shed by creatures in the waterway. The eDNA data reveals all the species present – from microbes to mammals. This can indicate the overall health of the ecosystem and draw attention to creatures that are under threat or unwanted pest species.

In the coming weeks, the EPA will be sending out the eDNA kits and running webinars for participating groups. The webinars will include an introduction to eDNA and a training session to demonstrate the correct procedures for collecting eDNA water samples.