Horizons Regional Council is calling for more landowners to sign up to its Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) and undertake further action on erosion prone land.
At June’s catchment operations committee, councillors made changes to eligibility criteria for SLUI to provide more options for landowners to take advantage of available funding.
Horizons catchment operations committee chair David Cotton says the changes are timely with central government looking at new policies around land use and freshwater management.
“At today’s meeting we received a report on all the positive work done through SLUI and Horizons’ land programme as a whole. Over the past year alone 570 erosion control jobs were completed, with landowners undertaking over 3,600 hectares of erosion control work – this included planting 2.3 million trees and establishing 156kms of fencing,” says Cr Cotton.
“Our funding can contribute towards these activities as well as sediment traps, reversion of land in pasture to native cover and retiring of existing bush remnants. SLUI is definitely a great mechanism to assist with works on farm to help landowners move towards evolving regulation.”
Horizons group manager natural resources and partnerships Dr Jon Roygard says Horizons can now offer funding for one-off jobs on farms that do not have a SLUI whole farm plan, and have further funding available for properties with existing SLUI and Whanganui Catchment Strategy whole farm plans.
“These new funding avenues will make it a lot easier for landowners to be part of the SLUI programme,” he says.
“SLUI builds farm resilience to storms and helps improve water quality by keeping sediment out of streams and rivers. The programme has been very successful over the 12 years it has been underway, establishing over 740 whole farm plans across an area of 552,000 hectares and completing 36,000 hectares of erosion control work.”
Dr Roygard says Horizons has secured $6.4 million for the next four years from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ hill country erosion fund and is working to further increase the amount of work on the ground.
“To assist in this, Council has changed the criteria to enable landowners without a whole farm plan to be eligible for support for erosion control work on priority land. The programme is seeking to deliver 90,000 hectares of new whole farm plans and 13,665 hectares of erosion control work over the next four years so now is the time to take advantage of what SLUI has to offer.
“We’re here to help with both funding and advice. I encourage any landowners who are considering being involved, including those with existing whole farm plans, to contact Horizons’ land team via email@example.com or freephone 0508 800 800 to discuss it further.”
To find out more information about SLUI and the funding criteria please see www.horizons.govt.nz.
Horizons’ 2019 State of Environment report notes that the region has around 260,000 hectares of highly erodible land in pasture and a further 200,000 hectares protected from erosion by vegetated cover. SLUI, New Zealand’s largest hill country erosion programme, is the main mechanism for tackling accelerated erosion in our hill country and represents a $79 million investment in the region by central government, ratepayers and landowners.
Since SLUI began, over 16 million trees have been planted and Horizons has established relationships with more than 740 landowners to develop whole farm plans across 552,000 hectares, representing over half the highly erodible land in the region. To date over 36,0000 hectares of erosion control works have been completed.
SLUI has been recognised in a Landcare Research report which assessed the impact of the programme on sediment levels in the region’s rivers in 2013. The closest scenario to how SLUI currently operates predicted that the annual sediment load in rivers will reduce by 27 per cent by 2043. Further modelling has shown that this may reduce to 5 per cent under some climate change scenarios.