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14.5 Where to from here?

Policy documents

The permitted activity rules in the Regional Water and Soil Plan for Northland do not specify or offer any guidance on good husbandry measures expected of land managers, such as planting potentially unstable areas on pastoral land with poplar and willow trees. The Council needs to look at options for addressing this, ideally that promote more involvement from the three district councils. Possible options include more education and promotion of soil conservation or the development of a soil conservation and erosion policy document. However, if the permitted activity rules continue to be inadequate then a review and plan change may be needed, which may lead to tighter rules on erosion prone land. For example, pastoral farming could become a controlled activity on erosion prone land.

A review of the Regional Pest Management Strategies will be undertaken during 2008-2009. This process will provide an opportunity for the public to have input on what pests should be considered, review control tactics and how new pest threats can be addressed.

Land use information

This chapter highlights that there is limited up-to-date information on land use within Northland. Currently the most recent land use data available for Northland is the Land Cover Database 2 (LCDB2) data that was created from satellite imagery captured over the 2001/2002 summer. Ministry for the Environment is the steward for the national land cover database, which it plans to maintain in a five yearly update cycle.

If this database is maintained as the Ministry initially intended, then an updated Land Cover Database based on 2007 satellite imagery should be available within a few years. Once this data is available the findings of this 2007 report that used LCDB1 and LCDB2 will be updated.

More information on the land cover database is available on the Ministry for the Environment's website at the following link:

http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/land/land-cover-dbase/index.html

There is also the option of using the LCDB in conjunction with other GIS databases such as AgriBase, which is a land use database created and maintained by AsureQuality. The Council will investigate this option further in the future.

Monitoring

The Council needs to consider increasing its routine monitoring of soil quality, so it can accurately measure trends in soil health throughout the region and assess whether land use activities are sustainable. This includes expanding the number of sites monitored in Northland to incorporate a greater regional spread, more soil types and greater sample sizes for the different land uses. This routine monitoring should be repeated at each site at least every five years.

The Council may also need to consider carrying out more site visits to assess whether land is being sustainably managed under its current land use. The LUC classification of Northland was an assessment made at the time of mapping. More frequent monitoring of soil health parameters will either confirm the original assessments or indicate a need for a review of the LUC classification, so that the classification is a better indicator of long term sustainability.

The Council needs to improve its recording and reporting on the extent of unsustainable land management within Northland. This includes recording incidents of poor soil conservation and land management practices in a database, being more consistent with following up on these incidents and reporting on these on a regular basis. This will improve the amount and quality of information available for future reporting on the state of Northland's land and soil resources.

Education and promotion

The Council will continue to work with the Northland Pastoral Development Group to investigate ways to increase the amount of information from new research and to distribute current knowledge in a manner that makes it more available to the community and landowners.

The Council may also consider incentives to landowners for carrying out soil conservation work. One possible option is to establish an annual contestable fund for Northland, similar to the NRC Environment Fund that landowners can apply to for financial assistance to undertake soil conservation work