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.
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:
There are many things we can do to improve and maintain soils, such as:
We can protect our native plants and animals by:
Toitu te whenua, whatua ngarongaro te tangata
People come and go, the land remains.
Waikato Regional Council is developing a section in the Waikato Regional Policy Statement (RPS) (external link) 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.