19 Apr 2012

Council wants to keep supporting erosion reduction

11:30 am on 19 April 2012

The Manawatu Regional Council says it's committed to supporting a sustainable land use initiative for another 10 years.

The initiative, which is funded by the council, landowners and the Government, is in its sixth year and is designed to reduce erosion in hill country, which makes up 64% of land in the region.

The council is inviting discussion on the initiative at a series of consultation meetings it is currently holding to get feedback on a draft 10-year plan.

Its chairman, Bruce Gordon, says that since the scheme's introduction in 2006, 7500 hectares of land has either been planted in trees or retired from grazing.

He says there has been "a huge amount of buy-in" from farmers in the region.

Mr Gordon says 270,000 hectares of land has already come under sustainable management and under the council's draft 10-year plan it is making a commitment for another 165,000 hectares to be included by 2015.

He says while landowners will continue to receive direct benfit from the scheme through the protection of their land, reducing erosion also leads to a reduction in the amount of sediment or soil that ends up in Manwatu waterways.

Under the scheme, farms are mapped at no cost to the farmer and an assessment made of the best use of the land, including whether it should be closed up, planted in trees, or put under a different form of farming.

Council environment manager Grant Cooper says the land use team will have developed more than 400 farm plans by the end of the financial year.

Consultation meetings were being held in Palmerston North on Tuesday, followed by meetings in Levin, Whanganui and Marton.