Looking Further and Deeper into Environmental Protection, Regulation and Policy Using Environmental DNA (eDNA)


  • Michael Bunce Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR)
  • Allan Freeth Environmental Protection Authority




eDNA, biomonitoring, environmental protection, environmental policy, ecosystems


DNA sequencing technologies are transforming how environments are monitored. In this article, we pose the question: is environmental DNA (eDNA) the tool that Aotearoa New Zealand needs, but does not yet realise it does? The step change with eDNA is that genetic ‘breadcrumbs’ left behind in the environment can identify every living thing, from microbes to mammals, thus providing a more nuanced and holistic lens on ecosystems. Using eDNA, we can explore the biological networks that underpin healthy environments. Here we explore whether changes in policy setting, guidance, or pathways for uptake of eDNA are needed. Can eDNA help us make better decisions, inform policy and protections, track restoration, and act as a deterrent to reduce environmental harm?


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Author Biographies

Michael Bunce, Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR)

Michael Bunce is a principal scientist (genomics) at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), and formally chief scientist at the Environmental Protection Authority.

Allan Freeth, Environmental Protection Authority

Allan Freeth is the chief executive of the Environmental Protection Authority.



2022-11-06 — Updated on 2022-11-09