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Conservation Authority worries about working with Fonterra

Conservation Authority worries about working with Fonterra

First published in Energy and Environment on October 24, 2019.

Conservation Authority worries about working with Fonterra
The Conservation Authority has told the Department of Conservation it is concerned its work with Fonterra isn’t a good look.

Minutes from the Authority’s October meetings, said members expressed “Trepidation over the partnership of Fonterra and DOC for the Living Waters project – concern was expressed that DOC undersold their brand through this association.”

The Authority had a presentation from Trish Kirkland-Smith, Fonterra General Manager Group Environment, on Fonterra’s programme to restore 50 catchments and the Living Water, DOC and Fonterra partnership.

Fonterra said NZers were now more aware of environmental impacts associated with farming, and Fonterra has heard this and was working to lift their game.

“Fonterra is looking for solutions within catchments that can be upscaled and many methods are currently being trialled, with additional research being done. Fonterra is also looking at social approaches to change mindsets and behaviours. They have approached councils and other major stakeholders asking where they can offer support in order to minimise any duplication of effort.

“There is also a focus within Fonterra to embed biodiversity into farming plans. Farmers are seeing value in this and working with Fonterra to assess their land. Fonterra has accepted that the future looks different and is getting on with change to provide inspiration for farmers.”

Comments from Authority members included:

• In the past, Fonterra have fought attempts to limit contaminants in freshwater environments. In part, this has led to the decline in water quality. “This is clearly evolving, but we would hope that industry will not continue to be a barrier for this”.

• How important will environmental issues continue to be for Fonterra? They “have heard this work is now core to the business and want to believe this is true.

• We need to understand the outcomes sought and measurement tools used. The Authority would like to see a strategy to place some accountability on this work.

The Authority agreed to write to Fonterra thanking them for their attendance and raising the Authority concerns.

Authority members also raised concerns about the prescriptive nature of Conservation Management Strategies saying, “the Otago CMS is an example by which the prescriptive nature of plans could cause media issues for the Minister”.

In regard to budgetary concerns for 2020. The Authority raised worries over the lack of funding for Kauri dieback and the need for increased funding for QEII. “There was support for an increase in funding to marine conservation and myrtle rust.”
First published in Energy and Environment on October 24, 2019.

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