Get to know our Experts: A day in the life of a Field Researcher

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Did you know that Goodnature has over 20 experts in their field working on the development of our current and new products? These include our four Field Researchers, whose trials play a crucial role in the design of our new innovations, in continually improving our current range and ensuring they meet our effective, safe and humane standards.

By constantly testing and monitoring in real environments, and with their in-depth knowledge of our wildlife, they literally are our eyes and ears in the field, contributing immensely to the preservation of our native species. 

Today we talk with one of the team, Jed, about his work, his passion for biodiversity, his top tip for helping our native species thrive, and some hints about the industry leading innovation he is currently working on. Happy reading!

Tell us a bit about your background?

I moved from Christchurch to Wellington to study Biodiversity and Ecology at Victoria University. My first flat was nestled in near Zealandia, the wildlife sanctuary with predator-proof fence in Karori. I loved learning the calls of hihi and tīeke in my backyard. I quickly became enraptured by Wellington’s thriving biodiversity. I also became aware of the dramatic effect that trapping our introduced species can have on our native birdlife. 

What led you to become a Field Researcher for Goodnature?

In my summer breaks, I worked with the Department of Conservation (DOC) in the wetlands south of Taupō. Using audio recorders and trail cameras, I monitored the critically-endangered Matuku/Australasian bittern. 

I was thrilled to record one of New Zealand's rarest birds, and days of slogging through volcanic wetland sludge didn’t put me off! When I got back to Wellington, I vowed to find a job where I could live in the city, work in the bush and have a real impact on biodiversity. I joined Goodnature as a Field Researcher in 2021. It’s super rewarding to see our next generation of traps keeping hihi safe, so that their song can be heard by more people, more often.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day is different, but most days go one of three ways. I'm either in the bush setting up a network of trail cameras to film our current or prototype traps in action; in the office watching hours of footage; or in the workshop waxing my boots or tinkering with our cameras.

About three quarters of my field trips are solo adventures but I really enjoy the trips I make with my colleagues from other teams too. It gives them a chance to learn about what research involves and they get to see the impact of their work, first-hand.

What are the different design phases for a new product, and what is your involvement in each?

Once a concept for a new trap has been developed, a very basic and non-lethal prototype shell is made. Individual components are then tested and tweaked in the field. 

I’m part of our product development team as an ecologist. I take iterations of each prototype into the field and record how our target and non-target species interact with them. When I get back, I pass my findings onto our development team. 
Only when we're 100% confident that a new design will quickly and humanely kill a rat, and be safe for a curious kiwi, I head back into the bush to test the lethal trap.

At the moment, we are completing the learning phase of another great innovation. Without giving too much away, let's just say it will be a tiny rat trap that can be released from a helicopter or drone, and then biodegraded once it has done its job. And always non-toxic, safe and humane. It's simply mind-blowing!

What's your favourite part of your job?

It's too hard to choose only one thing! Eating lunch under a giant rātā; chatting to a particularly friendly pīwakawaka, watching life on the forest floor through a camera; drinking a hot chocolate after a cold and wet day; spending time with my workmates and playing the ball game Ankle Breaker.

An epic memory that you’d like to share?

One of my best memories is the first time I recorded a wild kiwi in Wainuiomata near Wellington. In fact, I recorded two in one day! I was so excited!

What's the most difficult part of your job?

The hardest part of my job is ending the life of a rat. I’m proud to play a part in reducing our population of rats so that our native species can flourish, but I still respect rats. You can't spend hundreds of hours watching them through a camera without having some empathy for them. Even though pest control presents a moral dilemma, I'm super confident in Goodnature and my dedication to ending a rat’s life as humanely as possible. Every day, with my own eyes, I see how quickly and painlessly they’re killed by our traps.

And finally, what are your top tips to get more biodiversity in our gardens?

Plant more native trees! Kōwhai, pūriri, totara…native trees and plants provide the best resources for our native species to thrive.
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