Fence funding, a helping hand for Titoki farmer: Case study

26 Jun 2020, 3:00 PM

Tim Douglas has ambitious plans for the environmental future of farmland.  He's been working to protect and regenerate an area of native bush on 17 hectares of the family farm at Titoki, near Whangārei.

By doing so, Tim's hoping to both leave a legacy and help influence other landowners to do the same.

"My aim for this piece of the bush is to improve its carbon capture, and create a habitat that's diverse and beautiful," Tim says.

Tim share-milks a 500-hectare family farm with his brother at Titoki near Whangarei.  The Douglas brothers are carrying on from previous generations of farmers – they're shareholders of the farm along with their parents, Murray and Marcelle Douglas. 

To help with the costs of fencing the bush, Tim was successful in getting an Environment Fund grant from Northland Regional Council.  The area is next to the William Hewett Memorial Reserve and adjacent to an existing QEII covenanted piece of the family’s land.

In the future, the newly-fenced area will also be covenanted with QEII and used for restoration planting under central government's One Billion Trees project.  Tim has planted natives such as manuka and kanuka around the totara bush to enlarge the bush area and speed up the restoration process.


The beautiful area of land being restored with the help of fencing funded by Northland Regional Council.

The bush remnants on the farm are predominantly totara.  This is typical of many Northland farms as totara is not palatable to stock.  Having mostly totara means the bush is not biodiverse, so it won’t provide the wide range of foods our native fauna needs for a year-round food supply.  

Tim hopes that by fencing the area off, it will speed up the growth of other natives and increase the biodiversity of the area.

"I'm taking quite a Darwinism approach.  What would have been growing there before the land was cleared?  Then helping it back to that state through planting nurse crops and specific species.”

Tim is delighted with the help he has received from Northland Regional Council.

"Not only did the council financially ease some of the pressure of the project, but they also helped get it off the ground quickly," Tim says.

"I live in Europe for most of the year and having the council on board meant that it was easier to get it started from afar."

Tim also needed help with the planting of trees, so he put out a call for volunteers and was blown away by the response.  From families hoping to educate their kids on the environment to backpackers looking to offset their carbon footprint, the support he got was fantastic.  Family and friends turned up through word of mouth and the backpackers that helped were found through a notice on the website ‘Backpacker Board’.

It's all part of a bigger picture – by trialling this part of the land, he hopes to be able to help other landowners make environmentally sound decisions for their land in the future. 

Tim is also working with the council on other environmental projects on the property. There are opportunities to improve and enhance water quality on the farm leading to improved water quality on the farm and downstream to the Kaipara Harbour.

"Council is a great resource and network for me – they're knowledgeable, quick and they think outside the box, and I'm grateful for their input, funding and continued support."


Tim on the farm at Titoki with one of his volunteers.