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Freshwater Fund for Wetlands?

Freshwater Fund for Wetlands?

Federated Farmers have been working with DairyNZ to analyse the $100m freshwater fund policy, recently announced by the National Party. The outcome was very positive with both parties agreeing the fund could deliver improved water quality around New Zealand.

Federated Farmers believe NZ Landcare Trust and Queen Elizabeth II National Trust could both play a key role in delivering the new fund.

“The Fund to retire farmland would be perhaps better interpreted as a policy to create on-farm wetlands. Instead of looking at this as a linear purchase of land, or trying to recreate MAF’s old farm advisory division, think more along the lines of NIWA’s guidelines for constructed wetlands,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson and Member of NZ Landcare Trust Board of Trustees.

It is estimated a fund of $10 million a year could purchase at least 286 hectares. Using NIWA guidelines and if turned into strategically located wetlands, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers believe it could remove 60-70 percent of Nitrogen from around 9,500 hectares of farmland.

If applied to suitable sensitive catchments this could potentially result in major gains for a relatively modest loss of farmland. This approach is not seen as a silver bullet, nor is it applicable to every part of New Zealand, but it highlights how creative solutions are possible.

“There is a mechanism to provide a legal home for any wetlands created; QEII National Trust covenants. Meanwhile, NZ Landcare Trust can bring together all parties in constructing and managing wetland buffer zones," Mr Mackenzie added.

“Since this policy is still in formulation, the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust in cooperation with NZ Landcare Trust, may be good bodies to administer the fund. They are already there, they are excellent at what they do and both have regional advisors in place working with councils and landowners. Who better than the QEII National Trust supported by NZ Landcare Trust,” Mr Mackenzie finished by saying.

NZ Landcare Trust CEO Dr. Nick Edgar is supportive of this innovative approach saying, "NZ Landcare Trust has a good track record working with farming communities, the proposal to work alongside QEII could work well, bringing potential benefits to both farmers and our waterways."

END


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