Horizons initiative continues to tackle highly erodible land

Horizons initiative continues to tackle highly erodible land

In its second year of a new contract Horizons Regional Council’s Sustainable Land Use Initiative completed more than 3800ha of work and has 859 Whole Farm Plans in place.

The initiative known as SLUI targets erodible land and has been going for more than 14 years, Horizons environmental manager Grant Cooper said.

“Additional funding secured from the Ministry for 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,” he said.

The council has just completed the second year of the Te Uru Rākau contract.

Its contract with the Hill Country Erosion Fund (HCEF) is providing more than $6.4 million over four years and is part of the funding, alongside ratepayer and landowner contributions.

Horizons’ August catchment operations committee meeting heard that over the first two years of the contract the 6505ha target for erosion reduction was exceeded by more than 70 per cent.

The 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.

A key part of the SLUI programme is the development of Whole Farm Plans (WFP) with individual farmers, Cooper said. More than 619,000ha of WFPs have been completed across 859 farms.

“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 poles distributed to landowners, and we are on track to increase that figure to deliver over 36,000 poles this winter,” Cooper said.

The Horizons Region has about 260,000ha of highly erodible land in pasture and a further 200,000ha protected from erosion by vegetated cover, Horizons’ catchment operations committee chairman David Cotton said.

“SLUI is New Zealand’s largest hill country programme and is the main mechanism for tackling accelerated erosion in our hill country.

“It represents a $79m investment in the region by central government, ratepayers and landowners.”

More than 25 million trees have been planted since the initiative began and Horizons has established relationships with more than 850 landowners, representing more than half the highly erodible land.

“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,” Cotton said.

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