SLMHCE Project - Wellington Regional Erosion Control Initiative (WRECI)

Grant No: 09/05

Last updated: March, 2011

Project Title: Wellington Regional Erosion Control Initiative (WRECI)
Grantee: Greater Wellington Regional Council
Grant Number: 09/05
Contact Person: David Cameron
Address: PO Box 41, Masterton 5840
Telephone: 06 378 2484
Facsimile: 06 378 2146
Email: david.cameron@gw.govt.nz
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Project description

WRECI is targeted at five priority catchments and isolated erosion hotspots in the Wellington region. The aim is to reduce the affects of accelerated, erosion-induced sediment generation. The reduction in sediment will be achieved through land use change and the implementation of soil conservation practices by the landowners. Decision support will be provided through comprehensive farm plans and the application of a grant assistance programme.

The issue/opportunity

The control of soil erosion in the eastern hill country of the Wairarapa has been a focus for Greater Wellington and its predecessor the Wairarapa Catchment Board. Good progress has been made in the last fifty years through a combination of education and financial assistance. Farm plans have been the key method of delivery. Sediment generated from soil erosion is still an issue and WRECI will provide an opportunity to accelerate land use change, protect soils and improve water quality.

Enhanced farm planning will accelerate soil conservation in five priority catchments and isolated hotspots. Resource information, financial assistance and the provision of poplars and willows will assist landowners to undertake planting of eroding slopes and gullies, and the retirement of existing and reverting vegetation. At the end of the first four years it is expected that 2,089 hectares of soil conservation (poplar and willow) plantings and 1,050 hectares of close-spaced forestry plantings will have been achieved.

The context/background

The five catchments selected are the Whareama, Awhea, Opouawe, Flat Point/Glenburn and Upper Taueru. These catchments total 154,268 hectares and represent 19 percent of the region. The majority of land is in private ownership, the balance is part of the Department of Conservation estate. The geology of the catchments is a mixture of sedimentary mudstones, siltstones, argillites, sandstones and greywacke. The landforms are very typical of the east coast North Island and are subject to widespread accelerated erosion.

All these catchments have a longstanding record of storm events. The Whareama Catchment Scheme was the first comprehensive catchment scheme prepared in New Zealand and was approved in 1956. The Awhea-Opouawe followed a few years later. The most recent event in the Whareama catchment occurred in 2005.

Farm Plans have been the cornerstone of soil erosion work programmes in the Wairarapa for many years. They are a proven method of engaging with landowners in a joint approach to a wide range of land management issues.

Methods

A portion of the WRECI funding has been allocated to the appointment of a WRECI co-ordinator. This person will undertake all the project management aspects of the work, with a focus on planning, monitoring and reporting. The four existing Land Management officers will administer the implementation phases.

In a related development, Greater Wellington will look to expand its nursery production to meet the projected demand for poplars and willows. Currently Greater Wellington produces 20,000 poles per annum; this will rise to 36,000 once the full implementation programme is underway.

Consultants will be contracted to prepare the 100 new plans that will form the basis of the WRECI programme. Community meetings will be held to promote the initiative and newsletters produced to keep communities up-to-date with progress.

Project update: August 2011

Year two of the WRECI programme has been successfully completed. 15 additional properties now have WRECI work programmes completed. 14 WRECI plans have been completed. Some are signed off some still have a small amount of work to complete in terms of layout and printing and estimates of carbon sequestration and sediment generation.

One of the original 15 farms selected for having plans prepared this year pulled out of the programme in May, because they were uncomfortable with the amount of information that was collected about the property. A replacement property was selected and has had a plan almost completed.

In total there are now approximately 28, 400 hectares of land covered by WRECI plans.

An updated map of properties in the Whareama and Upper Taueru catchment has been supplied to show the area of land covered by WRECI plans. This map supersedes the map provided in December 2010.

This change in properties meant a small change in the spread of properties between the different catchments that WRECI works in. For the 2010/2011 year the following number of plans were produced for each of the WRECI catchments: Upper Taueru 5, Whareama 5, Awhea 3 and Hotspots 2.

Cost savings were made in producing the new WRECI plans this year. This allowed further pole planting to be undertaken in June 2011 on top of the 2010 winter plantings. An additional 1400 poles were planted in June 2011. This took the total number of poles planted in the 2010/2011 financial year to 3550. This is 1050 more than the target of 2500.

A further 1540 poles were also purchased during the 2010/2011 financial year and delivered to farms ready to be planted. However, weather constraints and labour requirements did not allow the poles to be flown onto the farms and planted in time for the end of the financial year. These poles have not been counted in the areas that are reported in earlier sections of this report. The area covered by these 1540 poles will be accounted for in the 2011/2012 reports.

A total area of 51.6 hectares was planted with poplars and willows. The distribution of these plantings across Land Use Capability (LUC) units is shown below. Note the total area shown below area is slightly less than 51.6 hectares because LUC areas smaller than 0.1 hectares were excluded from the analysis. 87% of the plantings occurred on erosion management units (EMUs) 5, 6 and 7.

The average stocking density across all areas for the 2010/2011 plantings was 69 per hectare. Stocking density across all polygons ranged from 35 – 219 stems per hectare, with the mean value of the polygon stocking densities being 79 stems per hectare.

Monitoring the placement of poles has indicated that it is important to record the actual placement of plantings rather than estimate the area that is covered by erosion control plantings.

Area of erosion control plantings for Land Use Capability (LUC) units.

LUC Area (ha)
3w1 0.3
5e1+4e3 0.4
5e2 0.6
5s1 0.4
6e2 3.1
6e3 0.4
5e3 0.1
6e13 1.2
7s2 0.3
6e7 0.6
6e7b 0.1
6e8 4.9
6e9 1.5
6e12 1.5
6e10 0.2
7e1 22.3
7e1+7e2 1.3
7e11 1.4
7e2 1.9
7e6 6.3
7e6b 0.4
7e8 1.8
7e12 0.1

Project update: March 2011

The WRECI programme is now 75% of the way through the second year of the programme. The summer period has been spent working on developing the second round of plans and collating background information for expanding the catchment programmes.

Fifteen plans are being prepared for the 2010 / 2011 year. The properties were selected in November after promoting the WRECI programme to farmers in the catchments. Properties were selected according to the WRECI implementation strategy from those farmers indicating an interested in joining the WRECI programme.

This year the programme has extended into additional catchments, with 3 plans being completed for the Awhea catchment, 4 in the Taueru catchment, 6 plans in the Whareama catchment and 2 plans in the hotspots area. The 15 properties cover approximately 17700 hectares.

LUC mapping has been completed for all plans. Only two properties required field mapping. The other properties needed LUC maps to be aligned with new photos.

The desktop exercise in vegetation mapping has been completed for all properties. This includes the coverage of poplar and willow plantings, native vegetation and scrub, and conservation forestry plantings. Good information is becoming available regarding the amount of vegetation coverage on hill country properties in the eastern Wairarapa hill country. Vegetation coverage is confirmed by the LMO on the first farm visit. Eleven properties have had the first farm visit with the land management officer (LMO).

Eight of the 15 properties have had the works programme developed. Three of the proposed programmes have been confirmed by the farmer.

Winter planting in 2010 has already achieved most of the targets for erosion control areas planted. However there have been significant cost savings achieved in preparing the 15 WRECI plans in the 2010/2011 year. These cost savings will be used for additional on ground works, with the aim of trying to achieve an additional 2000 poles planted in June. If these plantings can be achieved it will almost double the targets for year two pole plantings.

The summer period has also been spent collating background information for the catchment programmes, to be able to provide information to the communities to help with their decision making. Time has also been spent in co-ordinating Greater Wellington’s approach and the ability for GW to provide services to the community as the community clarifies what they would like to achieve in the programmes.

Part of this background information involved collecting data on canopy coverage for existing poplar and willow space plantings, to better understand the place of erosion control plantings in carbon sequestration and the ETS.

This work is now available to inform farmers during farm plan development, and has been presented to the wider farming community during a field day in March.

Further community meetings will be held in April and May to discuss these results and progress the catchment projects.

Project update: September 2010

Ten WRECI plans were completed by Jun 30 2010. Two of the ten plans incorporated 2 properties for the plans. These are properties that have either been amalgamated or one property is leased on a long term basis. The effect of this amalgamation means that a larger area of the Whareama catchment than would have been expected is covered by farms plans, and there are fewer properties in the catchment than originally reported.

Effectively 13 properties have now had WRECI plans completed in the Whareama catchment (including the pilot property)

The ten plans were completed by the consultant by the end of June, however there were a number of anomalies in the plans (pasture production, areas mapped as planted, some areas not treated that we thought should be treated). Suggested changes to the plans were made, and they are currently being completed to our standard by the consultant. Six have been finalised.

Approximately 20% of the Whareama catchment is covered by a WRECI farm plan after the first 10 plans are completed.

The areas noted as planted for poplar and willow plantings are estimates based on GIS shapefiles. Monitoring of space plantings will be carried out over the summer, to confirm survival rates and actual location of plantings using GPS. This may affect the final area reported at the end of year 2.

Project Update: April 2010

A project co-ordinator started work in October 2009.

An implementation strategy had been produced, and gained support from the Wairarapa Hill Country Advisory Committee (WHCAC).  This outlines the strategy for delivering the WRECI programme in the target areas.  The strategy includes methods for selecting the highest priority farms to work on first, and also prioritising which catchments to work in first. The strategy also identifies criteria to ensure that on farm plantings are targeted where they will be of most benefit.

First 10 properties have been selected and assessed against the farm selection criteria. All in the Whareama catchment. A contractor has been employed to develop the first 10 WRECI plans. 7 plans have had field work completed.

The WRECI plan template has been further developed; specific work includes developing a spreadsheet to estimate carbon sequestration of alternative planting plans, and an estimate of the sediment reduction from the proposed work programme that is likely to occur over a 30 year period.

Outside of the WRECI programme, separate work has been undertaken on a vegetation mapping project in the Whareama catchment in conjunction with MAF.  This work is intended to assist in providing background data against which to monitor erosion control plantings under the WRECI programme, and the success of the WRECI programme.

First community meeting held in the Whareama catchment to introduce the WRECI programme and introduce TCM.

 

Last Updated: 16 August 2011

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