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CHB Mail - 2021-10-14

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New partnership takes aim at erosion

NEWS

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council says its new partnership with the global environmental organisation The Nature Conservancy (TNC) could be a game-changer for the region in addressing erosion and sediment issues in waterways. The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Right Tree Right Place (RTRP) project is an innovative and potentially transformational tree planting initiative to support pastoral farming and prepare the region for climate change. The two organisations are working together on the potential to leverage the regional council’s investment in RTRP to deliver enhanced economic and environmental benefits for both farmers and the environment. Regional Council RTRP project lead Michael Basset-Foss says the partnership with TNC is an exciting opportunity. “The results of our partnership with TNC could be profound for the region. TNC brings global investment market credibility, environmental research expertise and valuable networks to the project.” TNC’s initial assessment of the RTRP project indicates it could attract investment and deliver a large-scale tree planting programme to address the region’s significant erosion issues as well as to accelerate the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices on productive pastoral farmland. The regional council is investing $4.8 million on pilot RTRP trials on up to five farms, and it will offer a funding arrangement to landowners to plant trees to earn a return on economically marginal land which is often erodible. The tree species being considered are those with the greatest potential to deliver a long-term farm return through revenue from carbon, timber and manuka for honey. “The trials will show how farmers can get an alternative revenue stream from marginal land allowing them to develop their pastoral farming operation. This will show a viable alternative than whole farm afforestation,” says Basset-Foss. TNC’s New Zealand’s director of conservation, Carl McGuinness, has welcomed the partnership with the regional council. “We support the commercial aspects of these pilot trials and we are evaluating a $50-$100 million scale up opportunity to understand how we can take Right Tree Right Place from a pilot phase to a programme that can be implemented across Hawke’s Bay. “This is an exciting opportunity to support farmers and deliver enhanced environmental outcomes for Hawke’s Bay, by providing viable economic options for farmers, financing to support the change, and implementation on a scale that delivers economic and environmental benefits across the region. “We are looking forward to progressing this opportunity in partnership with the regional council and working alongside the Hawke’s Bay’s farming community,” he said. TNC is collaborating with the regional council and other stakeholders to undertake a project due diligence and design process, which is expected to be completed by the middle of 2022, as the initial step towards the scale-up phase. Erosion is a natural process, yet human activity has accelerated the rate of erosion and increased the scale of its effects. About 250,000 hectares of Hawke’s Bay hill country has been identified as being at high risk of erosion and about 6.8 million tonnes of sediment is lost from this land and eventually enters the region’s waterways every year, with a detrimental impact on water quality. For more information and FAQs about the HBRC and TNC partnership go to hbrc. govt.nz and search #rtrp

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