Landowners in two erosion-prone Waipa River catchments are being alerted to a buzzing new opportunity to both protect their land and earn extra cash by helping produce prestige manuka honey.
Under a new scheme, involving funding from the Waikato River Authority and Waikato Regional Council, landowners can apply for up to 70 per cent of the cost of planting and associated fencing to stabilise steep slopes in the Kaniwhaniwha and Moakurarua stream catchments. This type of planting helps protect water quality from the effects of sediment and excessive nutrients.
The grant is available for planting various types of tree but the council says one option is for landowners to work with honey companies to make the land available for planting manuka and producing premium manuka honey. This type of arrangement between landowners and honey companies is already happening in other parts of the Waikato and elsewhere in New Zealand.
The council’s Waipa zone manager Grant Blackie said such deals could help ensure the health of waterways was better protected and provide a new revenue source to help improve, for example, farm resilience.
“A recent study said that many thousands of hectares of erodible land in the Waipa catchment need to be planted with woody vegetation to help deliver on the Crown-iwi Vision and Strategy for river health.
“The funding for planting provided by the regional council and the Waikato River Authority, and the potential for profitable partnerships with honey companies, will be an incentive for landowners to make the switch,” said Mr Blackie.
With new tree planting traditionally done in winter, Mr Blackie said it was a good idea for farmers and other landowners interested to start talking to the council about funding and to enter into discussions with honey companies.
“Deals with the companies can involve them helping with plant selection and planting, the establishment of hives and revenue sharing, and we can help determine if funding is available for planting manuka.”
There is no set limit on the amount of funding available, with applications assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Waipa – King Country councillor Alan Livingston said council staff would be alerting landowners in the catchments on an ongoing basis to the opportunities.
“The types of arrangements we’re talking about can be a real win-win for the health of waterways, reducing erosion, and farmer and honey company earnings,” Cr Livingston said.
Farmers and others interested in potential manuka planting could also consider attending a one day event on this topic in Hawera on 17 February. Details are available at: