Interest from Overseas

(Published on 17th October 2013)

Since its establishment in 1996 NZ Landcare Trust has focussed on delivering 'action on the ground'. The Trust has gained a reputation here in New Zealand for making things happen and delivering practical results at a grass roots level. Working alongside farmers, landowners and community groups, the Trust has provided support and encouragement - not afraid to roll up shirt sleeves when needed and always ready to celebrate community success. Work ranges in scale from small community groups who wish to restore native biodiversity in a local gully to large catchment scale projects involving a variety of land uses and multiple stakeholders.

While many people are aware of NZ Landcare Trusts work here in NZ, especially with rural communities, they may not however realise how this work is regarded overseas. The collaborative nature of the Trusts approach and the focus on community engagement is generating excellent results which in turn is attracting international attention.

The Trusts international reach was most recently demonstrated when in May 2013 NZ Landcare Trust CEO Dr. Nick Edgar travelled to Vermont in the United States of America as part of a New Zealand delegation seeking to share experiences with their US counterparts. New Zealand and Vermont are a world apart, yet share common challenges when it comes to managing land and water resources sustainably.

The week long trip included field visits to a number of farms but the focal point was a two day workshop involving nine participants from New Zealand and sixteen from Vermont. Opened by NZ Ambassador to the United States Mike Moore, the workshop was designed to create an opportunity for stakeholders and experts to get together and share ideas. It addressed a range of topics such as Setting Limits, Implementing Limits, and Monitoring Protocols and Tracking Progress.

Significant progress was made and a series of initiatives were identified for further collaboration and development, providing the potential for ongoing benefits both to New Zealand and the US state of Vermont - a point highlighted in a follow-up letter from the NZ Ambassador.

At a grass roots level, NZ Landcare Trust has hosted two separate visits from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) representatives, interested in how rural communities, with assistance from the Trust, have rallied together to reduce the impact of farming on the environment.

In September 2011the Sherry River rural community received a visit from OECD Policy Analyst Kevin Parris. Kevin wanted to see for himself how these farmers had successfully worked together to tackle water quality issues. Kevin believes farmers have a big role to play in finding the right solutions. In his experience farmers all around the world are grappling with similar sustainability issues and the success in New Zealand is worth sharing. The following year it was the turn of the Aorere farmers to welcome Mr Tetsuya Uetake from the OECD along with MPI's Principle Adviser International Relations Neil Fraser. Mr Uetake wanted to hear what motivated farmers to get together, and better understand the story behind the development of their catchment approach.

Empowering farmers is very much part of the Landcare approach and this is perfectly illustrated by the work of Landcare Ambassador and farmer Doug Avery. He was a pivotal member of NZ Landcare Trust's Starborough Flaxbourne project that set out to identify alternative farm management systems suitable for dry areas, such as the East Coast of the South Island. The success of the project allied with Doug's passion and outstanding communication skills have resulted in him being in great demand. He has spoken at conferences and events both here in New Zealand and overseas.

With sustainability becoming an integral part of the modern world and growing pressure to increase food production, the role of farmers and farm management systems is coming under greater scrutiny than ever before. NZ Landcare Trust believes working alongside farmers and rural communities plays an important role in helping develop new approaches that will help satisfy the need for sustainable land and water management. Taking this approach and scaling it up to a catchment level involving multiple stakeholders is seen as a significant challenge, yet one the Trust believes to be worthwhile, given the  potential to deliver outstanding results. Others seem to agree.

More information about the projects and people involved in this story:

 

 

 

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