GDC promotes uptake of afforestation funding

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GISBORNE District Council has launched a big push to get the last of the region’s most severely-eroding land planted.

More than 6500 hectares of the 50,168ha defined as “Overlay 3A” land, which has the most extreme erosion, still need to be planted before the government-funded Erosion Control Funding Programme (ECFP) ends in 2021.

Environmental and science manager Lois Easton told councillors at a meeting of the environmental planning and regulations committee it was unlikely they would reach their 100 percent target.

“I would be incredibly surprised if the remaining land that needs to be planted is planted by 2021.

“But, at the very least, I would hope we had a clear plan of how it could be planted.”

The council is launching a sustained push over the next 12 months to increase uptake of the ECFP, which includes two extra staff members — funded by the Ministry of Primary Industries — to assist its land and soil resources team.

Gisborne has the worst-eroding land in the country because of poor soil quality and the increasing frequency of adverse weather events.

About 26 percent of the district is susceptible to severe erosion, compared to 8 percent nationally.

The ECFP was established in 1992 by the Government to address wide-scale erosion problems in the Gisborne district.

Retire to bush or make sustainable

The funding allows landowners to plant trees or retire land to regenerate native bush in order to return the land to a productive and sustainable state.

Ms Easton said the council had been “very accommodating” of the farming sector in terms of compliance with planting Overlay 3A land.

“There have been a number of deadlines missed. But it is really important we stabilise that land.”

Councillor and committee chairwoman Pat Seymour said there had been challenges with multiply-owned land, and a lot of pockets of eroding land were not easily accessible.

Ms Easton said there were still difficulties with land blocks that were not incorporated, with no individual owners.

“Unfortunately, a lot of that is the most eroding land.”

About 70 percent of the land that needed to be planted was in the Waiapu River catchment, and about 40 percent of that was under management of statutory body Te Tumu Paeroa.

Other difficulties in getting landowners on board with the ECFP included limited options for the funding, such as funding only pine plantations.

MPI has revised the programme many times and it now included options to fund indigenous reversion, manuka planting and stock exclusion.

It had also made changes to allow community groups to apply, and for up-front payments.

“Those changes have been key for getting more landowners on board,” Ms Easton said.

The latest ECFP round, announced in November, distributed $7.4 million to 32 projects covering 4893ha in the district.

It was a $5m leap in funding from last year, which covered 1438ha on 37 properties.

However, the increase in funding was largely due to MPI relaxing the funding criteria, with land beyond the Overlay 3A category also able to apply for assistance.

GISBORNE District Council has launched a big push to get the last of the region’s most severely-eroding land planted.

More than 6500 hectares of the 50,168ha defined as “Overlay 3A” land, which has the most extreme erosion, still need to be planted before the government-funded Erosion Control Funding Programme (ECFP) ends in 2021.

Environmental and science manager Lois Easton told councillors at a meeting of the environmental planning and regulations committee it was unlikely they would reach their 100 percent target.

“I would be incredibly surprised if the remaining land that needs to be planted is planted by 2021.

“But, at the very least, I would hope we had a clear plan of how it could be planted.”

The council is launching a sustained push over the next 12 months to increase uptake of the ECFP, which includes two extra staff members — funded by the Ministry of Primary Industries — to assist its land and soil resources team.

Gisborne has the worst-eroding land in the country because of poor soil quality and the increasing frequency of adverse weather events.

About 26 percent of the district is susceptible to severe erosion, compared to 8 percent nationally.

The ECFP was established in 1992 by the Government to address wide-scale erosion problems in the Gisborne district.

Retire to bush or make sustainable

The funding allows landowners to plant trees or retire land to regenerate native bush in order to return the land to a productive and sustainable state.

Ms Easton said the council had been “very accommodating” of the farming sector in terms of compliance with planting Overlay 3A land.

“There have been a number of deadlines missed. But it is really important we stabilise that land.”

Councillor and committee chairwoman Pat Seymour said there had been challenges with multiply-owned land, and a lot of pockets of eroding land were not easily accessible.

Ms Easton said there were still difficulties with land blocks that were not incorporated, with no individual owners.

“Unfortunately, a lot of that is the most eroding land.”

About 70 percent of the land that needed to be planted was in the Waiapu River catchment, and about 40 percent of that was under management of statutory body Te Tumu Paeroa.

Other difficulties in getting landowners on board with the ECFP included limited options for the funding, such as funding only pine plantations.

MPI has revised the programme many times and it now included options to fund indigenous reversion, manuka planting and stock exclusion.

It had also made changes to allow community groups to apply, and for up-front payments.

“Those changes have been key for getting more landowners on board,” Ms Easton said.

The latest ECFP round, announced in November, distributed $7.4 million to 32 projects covering 4893ha in the district.

It was a $5m leap in funding from last year, which covered 1438ha on 37 properties.

However, the increase in funding was largely due to MPI relaxing the funding criteria, with land beyond the Overlay 3A category also able to apply for assistance.

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David - 9 days ago
Be nice to see long-term trees being planted, rimu etc, on the most erosion-prone land. In many, many years they could selectively log individual trees without impacting on the land. Pine trees are good, until they are harvested - then what a mess.

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