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Xerra successful in two joint MBIE Endeavour Fund bids: Forest flows & 3D change detection

By September 18, 2019 September 23rd, 2019 No Comments

Xerra has secured a couple of slices of a $241 million dollar pie—funding to support what the government refers to as “excellent research proposals that will provide the highest impacts”. Both bids are collaborative efforts spearheaded by partner agencies. They are among 71 projects awarded funding in an announcement on Tuesday, 17 September by Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods.

One proposal that got the green light is a $1M Smart Ideas project to help develop new 3D-change maps of New Zealand. Xerra’s Principal Scientist, Dr Dave Kelbe, will be supporting the University of Otago, along with GNS Science, Land Information New Zealand and Meridian Energy. The project will produce what Dr Pascal Sirguey of the University of Otago, and the Principal Investigator for the project calls, “unique, previously unavailable, land surface data.” He points out that this will place New Zealand “at the forefront of 3D-change detection”.

Being able to see topographic variations in our environment over time with unprecedented detail and sub-metre accuracy will allow environmental managers to make more informed decisions about managing natural resources in a safe, sustainable, and efficient way.

The other proposal that Xerra will be supporting is the Forest Flows project, a $13.7M Research Programme led by Scion, which also brings together the Universities of Auckland and Waikato, NIWA and international institutions. Its aim is to figure out exactly how planted forests impact our water.

In light of the One Billion Trees Programme and the government’s newly released National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, this programme will develop a fast and accurate way to measure how much water is used by, evaporates from or flows through planted forests, leading to better management of our natural resources.

Xerra’s scientists will provide remote sensing measurements and data science expertise to help develop 3D spatial water quantity and quality models. These will help maximise New Zealand’s water supply, improve our water quality and ensure regional water security. Data generated will also help protect primary sector productivity, providing critical information to the timber industry.

Xerra CEO Steve Cotter says both projects are squarely in line with Xerra’s mission to provide insights that are a catalyst for change, adding that they also “reflect the high value we place on science collaboration with other institutions.” He adds that it’s a testament to the hard work of the newly appointed Xerra team, to see success with multiple joint Endeavour Fund proposals.

“I’m looking forward to seeing these new collaborative projects deliver the positive impact that we know space-based data and artificial intelligence can achieve.”

For additional information contact:
media@xerra.nz
021 136 7702

Dr Pascal Sirguey
University of Otago
pascal.sirguey@otago.ac.nz