The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is inviting councils to apply for the next round of the Hill Country Erosion Fund (HCE). The fund helps councils and landowners to assess and treat erosion-prone land.
The funding round is open for applications from regional councils from 1 to 26 October, for projects to be delivered between July 2019 and June 2023. A total pool of $34 million is available.
"Planting trees is like a savings account for our future – the sooner we get the right trees into the right land, the greater the benefits over time. Conversely, erosion costs our regions millions if not treated," says Steve Penno, director of investment programmes at MPI.
The HCE is a partnership between MPI, regional councils and landowners that aims to protect erosion-prone land through implementing sustainable land management practices. It funds projects that are beyond the scope of regional councils to address on their own and takes a total catchment approach involving landowners and community members to identify issues and create solutions. Nine regions have benefited from the fund since 2007.
"We're seeing tangible progress from previous and current funded projects, and earlier this year we extended the criteria to also support proposals relating to alpine and coastal erosion-prone land," says Steve Penno.
"We also increased the funding 4-fold over the previous 4-yearly round, to give a real momentum boost and enable more land to be treated sooner, which will have multiple benefits."
"The HCE Fund criteria also encourages collaborative problem-solving. Everyone needs to work together to get the full benefits from tree planting for landowners, councils and communities."
Planting for vegetative cover with appropriate tree species is the key treatment method for projects enabled through the HCE Fund. Trees planted through HCE projects contribute to the long-term environmental, social, and economic goals of the One Billion Trees programme. Applications are invited from regional councils until 5pm on 26 October 2018.
- Erosion and its effects – lost soil, nutrients and production, damage to trees, houses, infrastructure, and waterways – in hill country areas alone are estimated to cost New Zealand's economy $100 million to $150 million a year.
- The HCE Fund is a partnership between owners of erosion-prone land, regional councils and MPI. The previous 4-yearly HCE round contributed $8.8 million for projects delivered from 2015-2019, with $35.7 million invested bylandownerss and regional councils in the projects.
- Regional councils participating in the last round of the fund include Manawatu/Whanganui (Horizons), Taranaki, Greater Wellington, Hawkes Bay, Northland, and Waikato. The 2018 boost round saw 2 new councils, Marlborough District Council and Nelson City Council, enter the fund and strengthen their erosion control planning.
- The HCE Fund was established in 2007 and is part of MPI's commitment to improve sustainable land management practices across New Zealand. The fund gives regional councils and unitary authorities the opportunity to submit bids every 4 years.
- As part of the One Billion Trees programme announcements with Budget 2018, the HCE Fund was "boosted" with a $1.8 million one-off fund for projects to be delivered in 2018-2019. At the same time, coastal and alpine/high country erosion areas were made eligible for the fund and the 2018 4-yearly funding pool was increased to $34 million for the 2019-2023 period.
- As announced recently by the Minister of Forestry Shane Jones, additional incentives to boost tree planting through the One Billion Trees programme will be launched later this year. The HCE Fund is currently the primary funding mechanism for councils addressing erosion issues (except for MPI's Erosion Control Funding Programme in the Gisborne District).
- Case studies are on this website.