More than $56 million of funding over three years has been committed to plug capability and capacity gaps so restoration and protection of our lakes, rivers and streams can be fully rolled out across Aotearoa.
Eleven projects funded by the Essential Freshwater Fund (EFF) will help upskill, train and provide information and tools for people in community groups, tangata whenua, regional and unitary councils, rural advisory businesses and other organisations.
The projects will help support the rollout of the biggest freshwater quality changes Aotearoa has seen in decades. The changes aim to stop degradation, make improvements to water quality, and reverse past damage to waterways. As part of this, water and land users including councils, farmers, horticulturalists and others are required to act by set timeframes.
James Palmer, Secretary for the Environment, says we’ve put better freshwater management systems and processes in place – now the reform work needs to focus on more people and professionals with knowledge and skills.
“Efforts of communities and others to restore the health of freshwater have started to achieve success but they’re not enough to address the scale of our freshwater challenges.
More people with the right skills and knowledge ensures Aotearoa New Zealand achieves its goal of reversing past damage to bring our waterways and ecosystems to a healthy state within a generation,” says James Palmer.
Projects include support for freshwater farm plans which begin to take effect in some regions later this year. More than $16 million will help to build capability through educational programmes, tools and resources for rural advisors and land users needed for this work.
In addition, $15 million has been allocated for additional council staff who will support catchment groups and accelerate the development of regional freshwater plans by the end of next year.
Other reforms needing support are the requirement for tangata whenua, communities and councils to work together to ensure fish can pass through waterways unheeded (fish passage). NIWA will receive $4 million in funding to develop a project which will strategically locate priority areas where fish are most at risk.
James Palmer says he recognises the important role agriculture has in improving our freshwater and the need for tailored on-farm solutions that help farmers and growers improve their local catchment areas.
“We know that many New Zealand farmers and growers are leading the way in taking practical actions to clean up waterways. These new projects will provide further support to build on and accelerate this effort.”