Horizons Regional Council’s Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) is continuing to target hill country erosion, with more than 3,800 ha of work completed this year and Whole Farm Plans in place across 859 farms.
Horizons environmental manager, Grant Cooper says SLUI has been in place for over 14 years.
“Additional funding secured from the Ministry of Primary Industries Te Uru Rākau has really allowed for acceleration of the programme, and is assisting landowners to progress towards the requirements of central government’s Essential Freshwater package,” said Mr Cooper.
Horizons Regional Council has completed the second year of the contract with Te Uru Rākau.
The contract with the Hill Country Erosion Fund (HCEF) is providing more than $6.4 million in funding over four years and is part of the funding alongside ratepayer and landowner contributions.
A report presented to Horizons’ August catchment operations committee showed that over the first two years of the contract, the 6,505 ha target for erosion reduction works programmes has been exceeded by over 70%, with more than 11,180 ha of erosion reduction work completed.
“Erosion reduction work consists of forestry, pole planting, stream fencing, sediment traps, reversion of land in pasture to native and cover, and fencing of existing bush remnants.”
Mr Cooper says that a key part of the SLUI programme is around the development of Whole Farm Plans (WFP) with individual farmers.
“To date, more than 619,000 ha of WFPs have been completed across 859 farms,” he said.
“In addition, Horizons operates a number of poplar and willow pole nurseries to produce planting material for erosion control programmes.
“The aim is to produce and source a total of 30,000 poles per season. The 2020-2021 winter pole season saw 32,600 2.5-3.0 metre poles distributed to landowners, and we are on track to increase that figure to deliver over 36,000 poles this winter.”
Horizons councillor and catchment operations committee chair, David Cotton says the Horizons Region has around 260,000 hectares of highly erodible land in pasture and a further 200,000 hectares protected from erosion by vegetated cover.
“SLUI is New Zealand’s largest hill country programme and is the main mechanism for tackling accelerated erosion in our hill country,” says Cr Cotton.
“It represents a $79 million investment in the region by central government, ratepayers and landowners.”
Since SLUI began, over 25 million trees have been planted and Horizons has established relationships with more than 850 landowners to develop Whole Farm Plans across 619,000 hectares, representing over half the highly erodible land in the region.
“Landowners have had a significant input into the completion of over 48,000 hectares of erosion control works to date.”
“Even if a landowner hasn’t had work done before, or doesn’t have a WFP, we encourage them to get in contact with Horizons land management team on 0508 800 800 to discuss what could be done on their farm.”
Find out more about the SLUI programme on the Horizons website at www.horizons.govt.nz/managing-natural-resources/land