Local authorities stand to gain from a new PhD study being carried out at the University of Waikato.
Chartered accountant Annika Schneider has decided, after four years in practice, to return to Waikato University to work on her doctorate titled 'Accounting for Biodiversity, a reporting model for the local government sector'.
She's been awarded an Institute of Chartered Accountants Leading Light Scholarship of $20,000 to assist with her research. The scholarships are designed to grow future academics in the accounting profession by nurturing bright achievers who will directly contribute knowledge to the accounting profession, or academic accounting community.
Until the start of this year, Annika, who graduated with her masters degree in 2007, was working at Herbert Morton Chartered Accountants in Cambridge.
"I enjoyed working in a practice but I always wanted to study again and this scholarship and another from the university have made it possible," says Annikia.
"My interest in accounting for biodiversity was sparked while I was doing my masters at Waikato, working with Dr Grant Samkin at the Management School."
Her PhD proposal was accepted in December.
"It's a good subject. Under the Resource Management Act, councils are required to manage their biodiversity but the legislation doesn't tell them how. My plan is to develop a framework that will enable them to manage and report biodiversity successfully."
Her first task will be finding how councils report their biodiversity - what councils are and are not doing - and from those results she'll develop a reporting framework. She will consult with experts involved in biodiversity, including representatives from DoC, scientists, accountants and academics.
"I'll also need to trial my framework in a working environment, find out if it's feasible and do-able at council level, and what roadblocks there are, if any."
Alongside her NZICA scholarship Annika also has a University of Waikato doctoral scholarship which is worth $22,000 a year for three years.
"I feel privileged to have received the scholarships - it means I'll be able to study full-time. I'm hoping to complete my thesis in three years and I think the routines I got used to while at work have helped me to become quite disciplined day to day. I'm going to miss my CA salary and I hope I'll still get time to ride my horse!"