Land and soil
Land is important
Our soil is a non-renewable resource. It takes thousands of years for rocks to weather into soils, and hundreds of years for rich organic matter to build up. Our welfare depends, to a large extent, on our soil and climate. Entire civilisations can rise and fall depending on their soil quality.
This means that making the best use of our land and soils is very important for our well being and survival. To use our land wisely we have to understand soil.
Our land is home to many unique plants and animals. They have developed here over millions of years in isolation. But we have already lost many species and could lose more without careful management.
About our land
The Waikato region covers 25,000km2 of land. Over the last 150 years people have made massive changes to this land – forests have been cleared and wetlands drained. We haven’t always understood the effects of what we have done or managed these effects well. Problems include:
- fragmentation of rural land
- pugging and compaction
- excessive drainage
- loss of habitat for native plants and animals.
Protecting the land
There are many things we can do to improve and maintain soils, such as:
- planting trees on hills and near streams
- careful use of fertilisers and pesticides
- retiring land from unsuitable uses or changing our land uses
- carefully managing stock
- reducing cultivation
- carefully managing water tables
- carefully planning urban growth and subdivision.
We can protect our native plants and animals by:
- legally protecting remaining native vegetation
- fencing to keep stock out of bush remnants
- controlling plant and animal pests.
- Find out about Landcare groups - partnerships where farmers work together to take action on local environmental issues.
- For policy information on land and soil check out our Regional Plan and our Regional Policy Statement.
- The condition of rural water and soil in the Waikato region - our 2008 report provides an overview of the issue of declining water and soil quality in our region's rural areas.
- Our land and soil indicators provide current information about the quality and changes of the Waikato Region's land, soil and native vegetation.
- Learn more about Māori and their connection to the land.
Toitu te whenua, whatua ngarongaro te tangata
People come and go, the land remains.
What does Waikato Regional Council do to help to protect our land and soil?
Waikato Regional Council is developing a section in the Waikato Regional Policy Statement (RPS) to provide high level guidance for peat soil policy. Strategies include slowing the rate of subsidence, mitigating the adverse effects from the use of peat soils and minimising the effect of drainage infrastructure. The RPS promotes peat soil research and advocacy for best management practises.
We support and promote research to understand rates of peat subsidence across different land uses, its effects, and identify management practises and land uses which reduce the rate of peat subsidence.
We're also developing strategies and guidelines for the management of catchments which contain areas of peat.
How can you help?
- Apply best management practises when farming on peat. You can also attend peat management field days and join (or form) a landcare group.