Sustainable Land Management Hill Country Erosion Programme

The Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Hill Country Erosion Programme helps protect erosion-prone hill country. It provides leadership and targeted support to regional and unitary councils. Find out how the programme works and why it's needed.

2015–2016 funding round

The 2015/16 funding round closed 5 December 2015.

Allocation of funds to regional councils

The pie chart shows the percentage share (%) of the fund to each regional council and its spread of highly erodible land area in hectares (ha).

2015/16 allocation of funding for SLM Hill Country Erosion Fund

Two types of funding

The Hill Country Erosion Fund

$2.2 million a year is available through a contestable fund for regional projects that help hill-country farmers treat erosion-prone land and implement sustainable management practices. Regional councils and unitary authorities can apply for this funding.

Capacity building initiatives

Funding is available to strengthen the knowledge of regional council land sustainability officers. These officers have a critical role in providing information on land management practices to land owners and managers. Funding is also available for establishing or enhancing catchment facilitation groups. The programme supports these groups by funding facilitators through relevant regional councils.

Programme needed to prevent erosion damage

Protecting erosion-prone hill country prevents damage to both rural and urban businesses, communities, and infrastructure.

Annual costs associated with hill country erosion are estimated at $100 million to $150 million from:

  • loss of soil and nutrients
  • lost production
  • damage to houses, fences, roads, phone, and power lines
  • damage to waterways.

The SLM Hill Country Erosion Programme has been developed to reduce the risk of erosion and flooding.

Heavy rain and other adverse weather events can increase the risk of erosion in the hill country. Erosion leads to flooding, which in turn can devastate farm production. Under heavy rainfall, up to 10% of erosion-prone land under pasture can be lost.

Serious floods place huge social and financial costs on rural and urban communities. For example, in February 2004, exceptionally heavy rain in the lower North Island caused severe erosion in the hill country and resulted in extensive flooding across much of the Manawatu-Whanganui region. A similar scenario played out in the Bay of Plenty in 2005. Following these floods, central government provided approximately $198 million to compensate farmers for lost production, to rebuild roads and bridges, and for rates relief. Stabilisation of land at risk of slipping will guard against this.

It is predicted that climate change will increase the risk and magnitude of extreme weather events.

Total catchment management and how it works

Under the Hill Country Erosion Programme, MPI takes a total catchment approach.

A total catchment approach to hill country erosion requires all landowners and community members to get involved in identifying issues and creating solutions within their own catchments. Reducing erosion in the upper areas of a catchment is more cost effective than bearing the cost of flooding and flood-control structures in the lower areas.

Part of the SLM Hill Country Erosion Programme is to ensure those with the necessary community-facilitation skills are available to assist those in each catchment to find their own solutions.

Erosion-prone regions

Regions particularly prone to hill country erosion and a consequent high risk of flooding are:

  • Northland
  • Gisborne
  • Hawke's Bay
  • Wellington region
  • Manawatu-Whanganui
  • Taranaki
  • parts of the Eastern Bay of Plenty
  • parts of Waikato.

Previously funded projects


Case studies

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