Report on state of regional environment released

Horizons Regional Council has released its 2019 State of Environment (SOE) report which provides a snapshot of the state and trends of our region’s natural resources.

The report is the first to be released since 2013 and is a synthesis of monitoring data and information, complemented by research and evaluation completed by Horizons in partnership with others.
Lead author of the report and Horizons science and innovation manager, Abby Matthews, says the report addresses how things have changed over time and where we are heading, given current and future pressures.
“The SOE reports on climate, air quality, productive land, biodiversity and biosecurity, water quantity and water quality across the region,” says Ms Matthews.
“It looks at where we’ve come from, where we are now, what we’re doing and where we’re going. We’ve included some examples of work underway by many parties to care for our environment and natural resources, and suggested ways our communities can get involved.”
Ms Matthews says Horizons’ aim was to produce a document that not only summarised the state of the regional environment but also one that addressed topical issues such as climate change and swimmability.
“Climate change presents opportunities but also significant challenges for communities in our region,” says Ms Matthews.
“This SOE presents future projections for our region’s climate based on modelling completed by scientists at NIWA. Key findings include potential temperature rises, changes in snow, rain and droughts, and the challenge our river systems are likely to face due to the impact climate change will have on river flows and sedimentation.”
Ms Matthews says Horizons continues to grow its investment in science and monitoring to respond to the region’s dynamic environment, and to meet the requirements of regional and national policy.
“The demand for science, and community interest in it, is increasing and SOE monitoring and reporting is key. This is reflected in the increase of science and monitoring programmes since the last SOE to provide new information on the region’s natural resources.
“We acknowledge with a large region and relatively small population the challenges before us are many, particularly as priorities evolve over time.
“Horizons would like to encourage our communities to take a look at the report to gain an understanding of where we are at. As the regional council we are available to provide technical advice and guidance to our communities so they can make informed decisions.”
The full State of Environment report is available online here, with further copies available to view at Horizons’ offices. Horizons will also be showcasing sections of the report via its social media channels.
Horizons staff are available to speak to school or community groups who would like more information and these groups are encouraged to get in touch via toll free number 0508 800 800 to arrange a presentation.

Further information:
State of Environment (SOE) monitoring is a key function of regional councils under the Resource Management Act (RMA).
Horizons measures environmental data via approximately 470 sensors across 150 sites. Last year this meant Horizons collected over 33 million data points.
Horizons recently participated in New Zealand’s first Pint of Science festival in Whanganui and Palmerston North where staff talked about the collection and validation of SOE data and water quality. They were joined by a guest speaker from Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research who spoke about sediment and hill country erosion.
The SOE report includes a ‘key findings’ section and is followed by supporting detail in the rest of the document.
The air chapter states that monitoring of Horizons’ two airsheds, Taumarunui and Taihape, shows these sites meet the National Environmental Standard for air quality. These sites are also likely to improve over time as home heating sources are upgraded.
The land chapter reports on productive land, fluvial research and gravel use, biodiversity and biosecurity. Key findings discuss state and trends related to stocking rates, soil health, erodible land, sediment transport in river systems, native bush and wetland remnants, and plant and animal pests.
The water chapter reports on water quantity, groundwater quality, river water quality, lakes, estuaries and coast, and swim spot monitoring. Key findings acknowledge the pressures the region faces in the fresh water space and look at state and trends of water allocation, groundwater bores, rivers, and lakes. The report also covers estuaries and coast, and swim spot monitoring.