The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has exceeded the targets set for waterway and wildlife protection according to a report presented to the regional direction and delivery committee.
Environmental delivery general manager, Warwick Murray says that by working with landowners, regional council staff had protected an additional 61.7 kilometres of the region’s waterways and 1100 hectares of erosion prone land in the past year.
Riparian protection on an Oropi property is an example of what can be achieved by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and land owners.
“Clean water and good soil is essential for a thriving healthy community and economy. Reducing farm related sediment, nutrient and effluent run-off are key parts of our work to care for the region’s waterways.
“Fencing, planting, detention bunds, treatment wetlands, nutrient management plans and land conversion assistance through our riparian management programme are some of our main tools for achieving that.
“On July 1, 2012, we set a three-year target of 67.5 kilometres of stream protection, but we’ve been able to achieve more than that. We’ve invested $2.2m over the last three years to get a total of 251 kilometres of stream length protected. That’s 502 kilometres of fencing,” says Warwick.
The committee report noted that while the protection targets had been exceeded, some landowners had asked for agreed work to be cancelled or deferred last year, due to tight fiscal conditions for their businesses.
The committee approved a policy change that will make it easier for landowners to complete environmental protection work this year by offering subsidies of up to 50 per cent for eligible work at high priority sites.
Warwick says council wants to help the farming community maintain momentum on improving water quality and adopting more sustainable land use practices.
“The adjustment will align Bay of Plenty subsidies more closely with those offered in other regions. We’ll still work within our existing budget, but having more subsidy flexibility will help us to achieve our increased target of 95.3 kilometres of waterway protection this year and 101 kilometres each year after that.
“Staff are working hard at regulatory and operational levels to improve water quality throughout the region and in particular in the Tauranga, Kaituna, and Rotorua catchments. Offering more attractive incentives to landowners will help us address the water quality concerns that locals have told us are a priority for them.”
The report also noted that in the 2014/15 financial year, 207 special forest, estuarine or wetland sites and 97 kilometres of coastal sand dunes were protected in the Bay of Plenty through regional council funding and assistance with pest control, fencing and restoration work.
Landowners can find out more about regional council subsidies and assistance by contacting their local land management officer on 0800 884 880 or visiting www.boprc.govt.nz/landmanagement