Hill Country Erosion Programme
The Hill Country Erosion Programme helps protect vulnerable hill country in New Zealand's most erosion-prone regions. Find out how the programme works, why it's needed, and about funded projects.
Preventing erosion damage
MPI is investing in the protection of erosion-prone land. Protecting erosion-prone hill country prevents damage to rural and urban businesses, communities, and infrastructure. The loss of productive land has a significant impact on the environment and on landowners' profitability.
Annual costs associated with hill country erosion are estimated at $100 million to $150 million from:
- loss of soil and nutrients
- lost production
- damage to houses, fences, roads, phone and power lines
- damage to waterways
Heavy rain and other adverse weather events can increase the risk of erosion in the hill country. Erosion leads to flooding, which in turn can devastate farm production and move sediment down the catchment into waterways. Under heavy rainfall, up to 10% of erosion-prone land under pasture can be lost.
It is predicted that climate change will increase the risk and magnitude of extreme weather events.
Two types of funding
1. The Hill Country Erosion Fund
The Hill Country Erosion (HCE) Fund is a partnership between MPI and regional councils which aims to increase the rate of land protection. $2.2 million a year is available through a contestable fund for regional projects that help hill country landowners treat erosion-prone land and implement sustainable management practices. Regional councils and unitary authorities can apply for up to 4 years of funding under each funding round.
2. Capacity building
Funding is available for:
- training and professional development of regional council land sustainability officers. These officers have a critical role in providing information on land management practices to landowners and managers
- establishing or supporting existing catchment facilitation groups. The programme supports these groups by funding facilitators through relevant regional councils.
A total catchment management approach
A total catchment approach to hill country erosion requires all landowners and community members to get involved in identifying issues and creating solutions within their own catchments. Reducing erosion in the upper areas of a catchment is more cost-effective than bearing the cost of flooding and flood-control structures in the lower areas.
Part of the Hill Country Erosion Programme ensures those with the necessary community-facilitation skills are available to assist those in each catchment to find their own solutions.
Find detailed HCE programme information
MPI's funding activity database contains detailed information about supported Hill Country Erosion (HCE) programmes since 2007. Select 'Hill Country Erosion Fund' from the fund drop-down list for the list of projects.
Summary of current programmes
Under previous funding, SLUI supported development of whole farm plans to manage erosion on farms with highly erodible land. Under the current programme, Horizons is focusing on completing work started in previous funding rounds – including targeting priority farms and land types.
Case studies will be carried out that will review on-farm work programmes and look at options for landowner use of marginal lands.
|HCE grant||$5.87 M||$7.62 M||$4.76 M|
|Total budget||$23 M||$27 M (approx.)||$30.76 M|
|Area treated||2,752 ha||16,894 ha||6,613 ha (years 1-2)|
South Taranaki Regional Erosion Support Scheme (STRESS) funding is provided through Taranaki Regional Council's Sustainable Land Management Programme (SLMP). Under the programme, the council uses farm plans to work with landowners on erosion management. The programme has resulted in 430 farm and agroforestry plans covering 203,469 hectares of privately owned land in the hill country.
|HCE grant||$1.06 M||$1.21 M|
|Total budget||$3 M (approximately)||$3.23 M|
|Area treated||4,372 ha||1,997 ha (years 1-2)|
There are 63,000 hectares of erodible land to treat in the Wellington region, mainly in the Wairarapa. The Wellington Regional Erosion Control Initiative (WRECI) programme treats land using:
- poplar and willow planting
- woodlot establishment (areas of woodland or forest)
- land retirement from production to revert to native bush.
These treatments are provided through a farm planning process with support from the council's land management advisors who advise on best practice for landowners.
|HCE grant||$0.99 M||$1.15 M|
|Total budget||$2 M (approx.)||$3.58 M|
|Area treated||872 ha||815 ha (years 1-2)|
The Hawke's Bay region contains areas with high erosion rates that are priorities for soil conservation work. Sediment loss is also the major factor affecting water quality in these areas.
The current programme continues earlier hill country erosion control work in these areas with a focus on 2 northern Hawke's Bay catchments:
Hawke's Bay Regional Council also invests in related catchment management priorities, including other factors affecting water quality.
|HCE grant||$0.72 M||$0.36 M|
|Total budget||$1.24 M||$0.93 M|
|Area treated||411 ha||41 ha (years 1-2)|
The Kaipara Hill Country Erosion Project aims to reduce sedimentation of the Kaipara Harbour by targeting high erosion risk areas in the Kaipara catchment.
- poplar trials and research
- an economic analysis of change from marginal grazing hill country to more sustainable land use options
- planting of 3,600 poplars annually
- a target of 60 or more properties being actively managed by the end of the project.
|HCE grant||$0.67 M|
|Total budget||$3.65 M|
|Area treated||190 ha (years 1-2)|
The Waikato region includes over 1,000,000 hectares that are affected to some degree by erosion.
This programme is implementing a soil conservation and sustainable land management programme in the western hill country of the Waikato region, which has the most pastoral land at risk of erosion.
The programme will benefit primary production through reduction in soil loss, as well as improving productivity of the hill country, stock retention, water quality, biodiversity, and landscapes.
|HCE grant||$0.63 M|
|Total budget||$2.31 M|
|Area treated||375 ha (years 1-2)|
This project engaged with landowners in the Waipaoa catchment to promote soil conservation works that weren't:
- in the East Coast Forestry Project
- on land where tree planting is required under Gisborne District Council's District Plan.
It identified eroding sites of priority to the Waipaoa River Flood Control Scheme and sought support from landowners for practical treatment options. The Waipaoa River Flood Control Scheme protects the intensively farmed land on the lower flats but it is vulnerable to aggradation (build-up of deposited sediment) caused by upper catchment soil erosion.
MPI supports Gisborne District Council's wider erosion control work through the Erosion Control Funding Programme.
|HCE grant||$0.1 M|
|Total budget||$0.1 M|
The New Zealand Poplar and Willow Research Programme develops commercial poplar and willow cultivars. The programme develops willow and poplar genetic material to protect erosion-prone soils – particularly on pastoral hill country slopes.
The 3 key objectives of the programme were:
- maintaining and enhancing poplar and willow genetic stock
- breeding new varieties
- transferring technology to regional councils.
|HCE grant||$0.65 M|
|Total budget||$1.28 M|
Find out more
- Review of knowledge on erosion processes, mitigation options, social learning, and their long-term effectiveness in the management of hill country erosion [PDF, 4.6 MB]
- Economic costs of hill country erosion and benefits of mitigation in New Zealand: Review and recommendation of approach [PDF, 1.7 MB]
- Using deferred grazing to improve pasture on sheep and beef farms [PDF, 228 KB]
- Hill country erosion: Stabilising land on Mangapapa Station, Waitotara [PDF, 296 KB]
- Focus on resilience: Farming on steep Hawke's Bay hills [PDF, 315 KB]
Poplar and willow trees
Poplars and willows are used extensively under the Hill Country Erosion Programme. Poplars and willows are hardy fast-growing trees. They're ideally suited to reducing erosion and providing stream bank protection due to their extensive and deep root network.
- provide animal welfare benefits through the provision of shade, shelter, and fodder in drought and flood situations
- filter and uptake nutrients, particularly nitrogen from groundwater
- qualify (at appropriate planting densities) for carbon credits through the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Willow pollen is also an important protein source for bees in the critical late-winter, early-spring period.
Who to contact
If you have questions about the Hill Country Erosion Programme, email firstname.lastname@example.org