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Thousands of hectares retired

Coromandel and Waihou-Piako landowners have retired land through planting native plants and building fencing in the past five years to prevent stock access and reduce soil erosion, flooding and sediment in waterways.
Waikato Regional Council said 234 Coromandel properties retired 934ha of land, planted close to 190,000 plants and built 90km worth of fencing and 228 Waihou-Piako properties retired 212ha, planted close to 400,000 plants and built 116km of fencing.
In total, landowners in the Waikato have in total retired the equivalent of 21 average-sized farms of unproductive land and planted over 3 million trees in the past five years.
The voluntary catchment and river restoration work was part of a Waikato Regional Council integrated catchment management directorate and was funded differently across the Waikato region.
This included through collected rates and by the council applying for funding for various work programmes from the Waikato River Authority, the Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust and ministries.
The amount of funding available to landowners depended on whether landowners lived in an identified priority catchment or whether the council had secured additional funding for work programmes outside business hours.
Waikato catchments manager Grant Blackie said the council had financially assisted 1823 landowners in the past five years.
“Landowners are doing a phenomenal job taking care of their land and unfortunately we always have more landowners wanting to work with us than we have funding available,” he said.
“In the past five years, with our help, landowners have retired 5777 hectares of land, remnant native bush, steep slopes, wetlands and riparian margins.
“All of this work to retire unproductive land helps to contribute to cleaner water, increased biodiversity and improving the climate resilience of each farm.”
Mr Blackie said the value of the work completed in the region in the past five years was conservatively estimated to be about $27 million, based on the average costs of fencing being $12 per metre and $4 for a tree in the ground.