Seven years on from the devastating floods of 2004 and things are looking brighter for the hill country in the Manawatū-Whanganui Region.
With the help of Horizons Regional Council and MAF, hill country farmers have planted over 4 million trees and built more than 230km of fences in a bid to protect their erosion-prone land.
The driving force behind this project is Horizons’ Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI). Developed after the devastation of the February 2004 storm which led to the loss of 200 million tonnes of silt from our hills, SLUI set out to reduce hill country erosion and reduce the flood risk to the region’s plains.
Horizons chairman, Bruce Gordon, says the programme takes a holistic look at land management on the farm.
“It offers farmers solutions to reduce erosion through tree planting, land retirement and pest control,” says Mr Gordon.
“In doing so, not only are they protecting their own land they are also helping improve water quality and reduce the flood risk to those who live downstream by reducing the amount of sediment in the streams and rivers.”
Approximately 60%, or 1,600,000 hectares, of the Manawatū-Whanganui region is hill county and the council estimates around 200,000 hectares of this has the potential for moderate to severe erosion.
There are now 355 farms now part of the programme and plans for 100 more to come on board this year.