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Landcare Research reports SLUI on right track

14 August, 2014

Landcare Research reports SLUI on right track

Promising findings of a Landcare Research sediment report where delivered to Horizons Regional councillors yesterday.

The report, which aimed to assess the impact of the Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) on sediment levels in the Region’s rivers, was commissioned by Horizons in 2013 and co-funded by Landcare Research.

Horizons environmental manager land Grant Cooper says while SLUI has completed a huge amount of physical works over the past eight years, it was time to find out what impact these works were having.

“We think the success of SLUI isn’t measured by the number of trees planted or fences built, we need to see that we’re making an impact downstream,” says Mr Cooper.

“We also wanted to know if the rate we are currently working at is best, or if we need to increase or decrease our works programme. So Landcare Research came up with five different scenarios and predicted how each one would play out by 2043.”

The first scenario modeled sediment reduction in rivers if SLUI works were to stop at the end of this year, which would result in a 9 per cent sediment reduction by 2043. The next four modeled SLUI continuing, but with different levels of farms coming on board and farm land being retired to forestry.

“What was really promising is that Scenario 3, which is the closest scenario to how we see SLUI continuing to operate over the next few years, predicts the annual sediment load in our rivers will reduce by 27 per cent as a result of SLUI works,” says Mr Grant.

“Also the report breaks this information down to a catchment level. So while sediment is predicted to reduce by 27 per cent across the Region, in the Middle Whangaehu catchment for example, it will be reduced by 61 per cent.

“So not only does this report tell us the work we are doing now is going to have a significant impact in 30 years time, it also tells us which catchments are reaping the benefits and which ones we could put more preventative works into.”

John Dymond, who presented to council on behalf of Landcare Research, said “this is great work, keep going”.

“Horizons are leading the way from a regional council perspective with sustainable land use and other councils are starting to follow.”

Chair of Horizons Catchment Operations Committee Murray Guy says “it was really good to hear first hand from people working in the industry”.

“This report will not only help us make funding applications to Central Government for further support of SLUI but it’ll also help us make decisions in the works programme,” he says.

Copies of the report are available on request and for more information about SLUI please visit www.horizons.govt.nz

ENDS

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