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Fragmenting rural land

Many people want to work in the city but enjoy a country lifestyle. In the Waikato region, some of our best land is being subdivided and used for housing rather than to produce food. This puts more pressure on the remaining good soils available for food growing and can limit our future land use options.

Fragmentation of rural land, Tamahere

On this page: When is fragmentation a problem?, Effects of fragmentation, Keeping future options open

When is fragmentation a problem?

Some people are concerned that more and more of our best soils are being subdivided and used for housing rather than to produce food. More New Zealanders are moving closer to urban areas, and many of these urban areas are in places with very good soils. Hamilton and Cambridge are both on very versatile soils.

Once these soils have been used for urban development they are effectively ‘lost forever’ from productive use.

As more people move to urban areas, it places more pressure on our remaining productive land. This can mean that we try to:

  • produce food on land not well suited to food production
  • produce more food from the smaller remaining areas of land suited to food production.

We may also be unable to grow crops that can only grow on very versatile soils.

Effects of fragmentation

New subdivisions and associated developments are increasing in the Waikato Region (see photo above).

Potential effects of rural subdivision can include:

  • loss of valuable topsoils during road construction and earthworks
  • greater concentration of septic tank discharges, which increases the risk of contamination of ground water
  • loss and fragmentation of habitat for native plants and animals
  • the introduction of domestic animals, which can cause problems for native animals (think of dogs and kiwi, cats and skinks).

Find out more about rural subdivision on different land types in the Waikato region.

Keeping future options open

Some land uses (such as dairy farming) require a large continuous block of rural land to be sustainable. Fragmenting rural land reduces our land use options. If we can maintain large rural land parcels for many years, we will give future generations a wide range of land use opportunities.