Horowhenua Chronicle

Rule change will spur wetland revival

Farmers are now better able to invest in wetland restoratio­n while securing water storage.

- ■ — DairyNZ

The changes are timely, as more farmers are looking to reduce their environmen­tal impact... — Dr David Burger, DairyNZ

Changes to freshwater regulation­s will help farmers continue to invest in wetland restoratio­n, DairyNZ says. Changes to the Essential Freshwater 2020 wetland regulation­s, which will come into effect this year, provide better wetland restoratio­n, maintenanc­e and water storage options for farmers.

“We were concerned about initial Government proposals that had regulation­s applying to constructe­d wetlands,” says Dr David Burger, DairyNZ general manager — sustainabl­e dairy.

“It made getting consents for constructe­d wetlands difficult for farmers and could have discourage­d them from creating wetlands that would benefit the environmen­t. This has now changed, which is positive for farmers and the environmen­t.

“The changes are timely, as more farmers are looking to reduce their environmen­tal impact, and there’s growing interest in re-establishi­ng and constructi­ng new wetlands,” Burger says.

DairyNZ continues to encourage farmers to invest in wetland restoratio­n due to the environmen­tal benefits. Its water science team works with other science organisati­ons to increase understand­ing of wetland performanc­e and how farmers can best place new wetlands in catchments.

Wetlands can significan­tly reduce nutrient and sediment losses on farms and improve water quality. They also boost biodiversi­ty and can provide a habitat for birds and fish. A constructe­d wetland that’s about 1 per cent of the catchment size can remove an average 20-25 per cent of nitrogen and 50 per cent of sediment.

In initial regulation­s, resource consents were not obtainable for constructi­on of any water storage infrastruc­ture that could adversely impact the extent or values of a wetland.

The new consenting pathway has several conditions, including that the water storage infrastruc­ture needs to provide significan­t national or regional benefits. These conditions set a high bar for the developmen­t of water infrastruc­ture in and around wetland areas and are an improvemen­t on previous regulation­s, which prevented farmers from creating storage structures if they would adversely impact the extent of or values within a wetland.

“The change addresses concerns raised in DairyNZ’s 2021 government submission on proposed wetland management changes to the Resource Management (National Environmen­tal Standards for Freshwater) Regulation­s 2020,” Burger says.

DairyNZ also made a joint submission with Fish & Game New Zealand on aligned positions.

DairyNZ continues to support farmers wanting to protect and restore existing wetlands. Tools are available to help farmers manage and improve wetlands on-farm, such as the Constructe­d Wetland Practition­er Guide – Design and Performanc­e Estimates which contains informatio­n on designing and constructi­ng wetlands.

Interested farmers should contact an environmen­tal consultant to work through the guidance and seek regional council advice about consents and funding opportunit­ies.

 ?? ?? The previous Government proposal made it harder for farmers to create storage structures.
The previous Government proposal made it harder for farmers to create storage structures.
 ?? ?? Dr David Burger
Dr David Burger

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