Objectives for land management are presented in this Plan to encourage sustainable land use and minimise erosion. These focus on responding to the fact that 65% of the Region consists of gullies and hillsides subject to accelerated erosion*. A target has been introduced into Objective 4-1 to ensure that the progress toward sustainable hill country land use can be measured. This is particularly important because the policy platform that underpins this objective is largely non-regulatory.

Policy 4-1 recognises that regulation is not the appropriate tool to encourage change toward sustainable land management practices. Instead it uses non-regulatory farm plans that contain a programme of works involving the landowner’s active participation. Policy 4-1 and associated methods acknowledge that the achievement of sustainable farming practices on hill country land subject to an elevated risk of accelerated erosion* is a complex task. There are three reasons for this.
  1. Recognition that sustainable land use means changing from unsustainable farming practices. This may mean the introduction of new practices such as employing different stocking rates, introducing forestry* or retirement of land and fencing water bodies.
  2. Commitment to implementing new land management practices will require capital outlay and most importantly require a willingness from the landowner to introduce change.
  3. Sustainable land management practices need to be tailored to the specific land capability of an individual holding, which means a blanket approach introducing one solution for all hill country farming will probably fail.
Policy 4-2 recognises that vegetation clearance* and land disturbance* are two of the main contributors to accelerated erosion*. It also recognises that vegetation clearance*, land disturbance* and cultivation* within or close to water bodies have a high risk of causing discharges of sediment to water. The policy describes the regulation of land use activities to provide guidance to regional and district plan preparation.

Policy 4-3 states the Regional Council’s support for codes of practice, standards, guidelines and environmental management plans as these can assist with reducing accelerated erosion*.