The Ministry for Primary Industries’ Erosion Control Funding Programme (ECFP) is providing $830,000 to the Gisborne District Council to undertake high definition digital 3-D aerial mapping of its region to enable better-informed erosion control and business decisions.
LiDAR is a remote sensing tool which uses laser pulses to generate large amounts of highly-accurate geographical terrain data.
"With LiDAR’s accuracy we'll be able to use better data to accurately assess erosion risks, increase the effectiveness of erosion control treatments, and evaluate the success of past land treatments," says Ben Dalton, deputy director general, sector partnerships and programmes.
"The East Coast is the most erosion-prone region in New Zealand. The area has great potential for further primary sector economic growth but in many cases erosion significantly affects pasture and other productive land. Leaving eroded land untreated has a negative economic impact on hill country farms, infrastructure, rivers, water quality, people, and communities.
"As a community we need to address erosion in the region now to ensure land remains sustainable for future generations. Addressing erosion control is a key component of succession planning," says Mr Dalton. "There will be long-term social, environmental, and economic benefits for the community through the direct and indirect improved decision-making," he said.
The LiDAR data will be free for public and commercial businesses to use in a wide range of areas, including infrastructure design and investment, urban planning, and across the primary sector in agriculture, forestry, and horticulture.
Gisborne District Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says LiDAR is a key element in unlocking Māori land productivity and will be invaluable to the forestry industry which often flies localised LiDAR to help with harvest planting. "The data will also assist in road design and planning and enable us to better map and manage natural hazards, such as flood-prone, tsunami, and storm surge areas. It will enable accurate mapping of active faults, landslides and earthflows, and other areas of instability," she said.
The funding for the LiDAR initiative comes from the Erosion Control Funding Programme (ECFP) which supports the Government’s One Billion Trees initiative. With this funding, community groups can lead projects that not only improve erosion but generate wider environmental, economic, and social benefits for the region. Examples of community initiatives could include increasing local seedling supplies, skills and labour, optimising land use for erodible land, new or alternative erosion treatments, riparian planting, or post-harvest options.
The Gisborne District Council and Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) will also contribute funding to the initiative. LINZ plays a key role in increasing LiDAR coverage across New Zealand, working with councils to collect the data and making it widely available.
The Erosion Control Funding Programme is open for community project applications all year.