Gisborne District Council says a decision to change the district plan which will effectively restrict what farmers can do on 51,000 hectares of hill country, is in landowners' long term interests.
Two years ago the Government decided that the East Coast Forestry Project, set up in 1992 to combat severe erosion, had failed to reach its objectives.
Forestry Minister Jim Anderton told the council future funding would depend on it forcing farmers on the most erosion-prone land to plant their property in trees.
After a long consultation process the Gisborne Council recently voted in favour of changing its district plan.
Gisborne-Wairoa Federated Farmers President Hamish Cave, says sheep and beef farmers are already suffering from low returns and the changes will make some East Coast hill country farms unviable.
Gisborne Soil Conservator Trevor Freeman says the council has tried to look at the long term need for protection from erosion.
He says some aspects of the rules were altered as part of the consultation process.