Hill Country Erosion Programme

Hill Country Erosion Programme helps protect erosion-prone hill country. It provides leadership and targeted support to regional and unitary councils. Find out how the programme works and why it's needed.

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.

Supported programmes

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

Find out more

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 funding@mpi.govt.nz

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