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West coast land and water protection given major boost

Waikato Regional Council’s efforts to manage erosion on vulnerable west coast farm land, as well as prevent sediment getting into waterways, have been given a major boost through $630,000 worth of new central Government funding.

“The money from the Ministry for Primary Industries 2015 hill country erosion fund over the next four years will play an important part in combating erosion and maintaining the health of our west coast waterways,” said the council’s integrated catchment management chair Stuart Husband.

“We really appreciate this central Government help which will both support farming productivity and protect the environment.”

Parts of the council’s west coast zone, which stretches from south of Port Waikato to Mokau, have been identified as having the highest proportion of erosion-prone farm land in the region. Erosion affects farm production and sends sediment into waterways where it damages water quality and aquatic life.

The initial focus of work to be funded by the ministry’s money is a pilot programme in the three highest risk catchments of the Awakino, Lower Mokau and Mangaotaki rivers.

“The overall programme will involve taking a holistic approach to economically and environmentally sustainable land management,” said Cr Husband.

Funding will go towards activities such as tree planting, fencing, retiring land from active use, farm planning to identify the best practices on individual properties and increased council resources to support this work, which will be carried out in co-operation with landowners.

The council’s west coast zone manager Leanne Lawrence said the pilot programme would help identify what are the best and most effective processes in the catchments to prevent erosion and sedimentation of waterways.

Normally the council pays up to 35 per cent of costs for soil conservation work in priority areas within the zone, with the remainder coming from other sources and landowners. Now, with the ministry’s funding in place, landowners who work with the council within the targeted three catchments will have access to up to 70 per cent.

“It’s fantastic that the ministry has been prepared to contribute the $630,000 over four years as it will help us to provide further incentives for landowners to undertake the work needed to protect productivity and waterways,” said Ms Lawrence.

All up the pilot programme’s package of measures is expected to cost the council, landowners and other funders about $2 million over four years.

The work will be overseen by the council’s west coast catchment committee which includes landowner and farming representatives.

 

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