Plans needed for vast areas of eroding land

The council has an active plan for the Waiapu Catchment, which is where most of the land is.

The council has an active plan for the Waiapu Catchment, which is where most of the land is.

File picture

GISBORNE District Council and the region faces a problem in getting landowners to plant the 40 percent of the district’s most seriously eroding land on which no work plans have been prepared.

The environmental planning and regulation committee was considering the land and soil section of the 2016 state of the environment report.

It was told that 60 percent or 27,888 hectares of the land in Overlay 3a, on which tree planting or native reversion is compulsory, was now covered by a work plan or had already been planted.

Roger Haisman asked what was being done about the other 40 percent, which is about 18,600ha.

Did the council know where this land was and why a work plan had not been completed?

Shared sciences manager Lois Easton said the council had a very active plan in conjunction with the Ministry of Primary Industries and Ngati Porou for the Waiapu Catchment, which was where most of this land was.

Most of this land was multiple-owned. There had been some good success with land that was managed by the Maori Trustee and she thought they would get there with that.

“But we will have a problem group and it might be 20 percent or more whom we are going to struggle to ever get a work plan out of. We need to work out what we are going to do about compliance with our rules,” she said.

The work plan was the first stage. Obviously planting or retiring the land was the next one, and had to be completed by 2021.

The council would be facing the issue on what to do about land where there was no work plan and no work being undertaken to remedy the very serious erosion.

No easy solution

There would not be an easy solution but it was something the council should be considering.

Committee chairwoman Pat Seymour said the work plans were supposed to have been in place by 2011.

Mr Haisman said it was now 2016, and it was not fair comment to say it was difficult, it was the landowners who were being difficult.

“So what are we going to do about it?” he said. “We always knew it was going to be difficult.”

Mrs Seymour said that was what staff would come back with. This was the reason the council had partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries and Ngati Porou.

Environmental and regulatory services group manager Kevin Strongman said the issue had been discussed at management level and the council was looking at ways of moving forward.

Meredith Akuhata-Brown asked if other tree species were being considered for funding, as was being investigated at present.

Ms Easton said the erosion control funding project covered a wide range of species but there had been no applications for eucalyptus.

Unfortunately in this region, except for a few farm foresters, most people still went for pine. What was needed was for the forestry companies to see there was real value in changing species.

The land and soil “state of the environment” report says that while forestry was once a major component of East Coast Forestry Project funding, in recent years there has been a trend towards native reversion and manuka plantings for honey.

“This has been particularly in areas more remote from Gisborne Port and follows changes to the funding scheme to better reflect iwi and community aspirations for long-term land uses.”

Other findings in the land and soil section include:

  • The forestry harvest has tripled since 2002-2005
  • Trends in cropping show that maize, sweetcorn, grapes, citrus, squash and kiwifruit are the most significant summer crops in the district; while squash production has declined on the Poverty Bay Flats it has increased in other parts of the district.
  • Large areas of the Poverty Bay Flats and parts of Gisborne City are vulnerable to liquefaction in a large earthquake and these have been mapped.

GISBORNE District Council and the region faces a problem in getting landowners to plant the 40 percent of the district’s most seriously eroding land on which no work plans have been prepared.

The environmental planning and regulation committee was considering the land and soil section of the 2016 state of the environment report.

It was told that 60 percent or 27,888 hectares of the land in Overlay 3a, on which tree planting or native reversion is compulsory, was now covered by a work plan or had already been planted.

Roger Haisman asked what was being done about the other 40 percent, which is about 18,600ha.

Did the council know where this land was and why a work plan had not been completed?

Shared sciences manager Lois Easton said the council had a very active plan in conjunction with the Ministry of Primary Industries and Ngati Porou for the Waiapu Catchment, which was where most of this land was.

Most of this land was multiple-owned. There had been some good success with land that was managed by the Maori Trustee and she thought they would get there with that.

“But we will have a problem group and it might be 20 percent or more whom we are going to struggle to ever get a work plan out of. We need to work out what we are going to do about compliance with our rules,” she said.

The work plan was the first stage. Obviously planting or retiring the land was the next one, and had to be completed by 2021.

The council would be facing the issue on what to do about land where there was no work plan and no work being undertaken to remedy the very serious erosion.

No easy solution

There would not be an easy solution but it was something the council should be considering.

Committee chairwoman Pat Seymour said the work plans were supposed to have been in place by 2011.

Mr Haisman said it was now 2016, and it was not fair comment to say it was difficult, it was the landowners who were being difficult.

“So what are we going to do about it?” he said. “We always knew it was going to be difficult.”

Mrs Seymour said that was what staff would come back with. This was the reason the council had partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries and Ngati Porou.

Environmental and regulatory services group manager Kevin Strongman said the issue had been discussed at management level and the council was looking at ways of moving forward.

Meredith Akuhata-Brown asked if other tree species were being considered for funding, as was being investigated at present.

Ms Easton said the erosion control funding project covered a wide range of species but there had been no applications for eucalyptus.

Unfortunately in this region, except for a few farm foresters, most people still went for pine. What was needed was for the forestry companies to see there was real value in changing species.

The land and soil “state of the environment” report says that while forestry was once a major component of East Coast Forestry Project funding, in recent years there has been a trend towards native reversion and manuka plantings for honey.

“This has been particularly in areas more remote from Gisborne Port and follows changes to the funding scheme to better reflect iwi and community aspirations for long-term land uses.”

Other findings in the land and soil section include:

  • The forestry harvest has tripled since 2002-2005
  • Trends in cropping show that maize, sweetcorn, grapes, citrus, squash and kiwifruit are the most significant summer crops in the district; while squash production has declined on the Poverty Bay Flats it has increased in other parts of the district.
  • Large areas of the Poverty Bay Flats and parts of Gisborne City are vulnerable to liquefaction in a large earthquake and these have been mapped.

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Art Tomkinson - 3 years ago
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