Cows on a farm in Hawke's Bay.
An important agricultural hub Hawke's Bay produces a variety of horticultural and pastoral products. © Hawke's Bay Regional Council

Stories in New Zealand

Land for Life: supporting farmers and addressing environmental challenges in Hawke's Bay

Hawke's Bay is a key agricultural hub, but tough environmental challenges threaten the way of life for farmers and nature.

Land for Life: A Collaborative Approach

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is partnering with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) to establish Land for Life: a collaboration between HBRC, TNC, farmers and the farming communities to reduce the region’s erosion challenges, address climate change, improve freshwater quality and protect biodiversity. 

Hawke's Bay is an important agricultural hub producing a variety of horticultural and pastoral products. However, it experiences accelerated rates of soil erosion, much of which is due to farming activities. Erosion of steep hillsides is leading to sedimentation of freshwater and coastal waters, soil loss and habitat degradation, as well as negative impacts on communities and landowners. About 250,000 hectares of Hawke’s Bay hill country is at high risk of erosion, and about 6.8 million tonnes of sediment eventually enters the region’s waterways every year, detrimentally impacting water quality and aquatic life.

Land for Life is supporting farmers to plant appropriate tree species in the right places to slow erosion, improve freshwater quality and build resilient farms. Paired with other regenerative agricultural practices, the partnership will support improvements in farm systems that are good for the farmer’s bottom line and the environment.

Hawke's Bay is affected from steep erosion.
Steep Country Hawke's Bay is affected from steep erosion. © Hawke's Bay Regional Council

Land for Life’s local team of forestry, farming and financing specialists offer support to participating farmers to: 

  • Prepare and implement farm plans and visions
  • Maintain and enhance pastoral farming systems
  • Diversify and potentially increase revenue streams 
  • Improve returns from marginal land
  • Support succession planning and debt reduction through improved incomes
  • Build climate-resilient farms with significant environmental benefits

 

Tree planting on a pilot farm in Hawke's Bay.
Right Tree Right Place Planting the right trees in the right places can bring benefits to both farmers and nature. © Hawke's Bay Regional Council

Latest Progress

Land for Life’s pilot has worked with landowners to develop a farm plan on the initial farm that articulates their vision for their land. The first trees were planted in August 2022.

Work is now underway with the next group of (15) farmers to agree farm improvements and sustainable financing mechanisms. Subject to a business case in early 2023 (based on this initial group) we aim to scale this to a full “pilot” that comprises approximately 50 farms covering 37,500 hectares. The results of this pilot will enable us to assess the potential to scale this approach across the balance of Hawke's Bay hill country which is at high risk of erosion, as well as to other parts of New Zealand.

For more information, please visit www.hbrc.govt.nz and search #rtrp.

Land for Life Flyer

A flyer created to explain the partnership to farmers and the benefits of the program.

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