Farmers get $6 million to improve waterways and biodiversity

More than $6 million will be spent on helping farmers improve the health of rivers, wetlands, and habitat biodiversity in Canterbury and Otago, as well as improving long-term land management practices, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

Four farmer-led catchment group Jobs for Nature projects have between allocated between $176,000 and $2.3m over the next three years to fund environmental improvement work across dozens of sites in their regions.

That includes $362,000 for a North Otago sustainable land management riparian project, $2.2m for the Tinaku project in Ellesmere and $176,000 for the Pomahaka wetland restoration project.

A further $2.9m will go towards helping about 300 Hurunui farmers work towards improving the health of their land and water through applying farm environment planning and sustainable land management practices.

Jobs for Nature is a $1.245 billion programme, which is part of the Covid-19 recovery package. It manages funding across multiple government agencies to benefit the environment, people and the regions.

The projects will employ 15 to 20 people as well as specialist contractors.

O’Connor said most of the initiatives were being led by established catchment groups with hundreds of farmer members. The work would involve fencing and planting around water bodies, clearing of unsuitable trees, and pest control. Projects also included building a wetland boardwalk, and structures to protect endangered fish from predator species.

He said the projects would build on work farmers were already doing to nurture their enbironment, and provide jobs.

“Hurunui farmers have had a particularly tough few years, with the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake causing thousands of landslides and significant damage to large areas of land,” O’Connor said.

“This project will help farmers recover and prepare for the future through developing the farm environment plans that will help improve their farms’ productivity and sustainability.”

“Producing food and fibre for the world with strong environmental credentials will create more value for our products, and is a core part of delivering our Fit for a Better World – Accelerating Our Economic Potential roadmap and New Zealand’s economic recovery from Covid-19.

“An important component of all these projects is that they are led by farmers and the community. Farmers working directly with each other through local catchment groups means they can develop and share their knowledge about what works for them and provide a connected network for support and advice.”