This is the presentation I was asked to deliver to Iwi Chairs early last year. Whilst this did not happen, I included it in material that I and John presented at a later meeting.
I have got to point out the views I express today are my views and my views alone. The Upper Catchment described as Ruapehu, includes part of Stratford and Te Kuiti Districts, which are in the Whanganui Catchment.
Now Just abit about myself. I am a farmer, farming in the Kaitieke Valley since 1979. Yes I am older than I look, at least I like to think so. I also represented you for 2 terms as a Regional Councilor on Horizons Regional Council, and which is the subject of and in some instances, the source of my information. I have farmed in the valley for 37 yrs, same property, the geology is sand stone based soils, with pumice flats and some very easy country on the hill tops which soil type could be best described as a Mairoa ash type.
I like to think that the property is pretty good, no different to yours. It is running 4200 SU. A 50/50 sheep to cattle ratio. A good fert history. And is 340 hec effective. Abit small maybe.
Now to the subject matter requested.
Horizons One Plan. The policy Statement has lots of written paragraphs re-enforcing the Non regulatory nature of the Plan.
Nonsense. Yes nonsense. May be for now. But. The Policy Statement, Setting The Scene, states clearly para 1.3. The Big 4. Water Quality Degradation. Unsustainable Hill Country Land Use. Threatened Biodiversity. Climate Change?
The Plan must give effect to wording of the Policy Statement. There you have it, para 1.5 last sentence. If the emphasis on promoting and encouraging change is not effective. It will use RULES.
I am here today to convince you that Regional Council is in fact setting the Scene for regulation of Hill Country Land Use, to bring about massive land use change to tree cover.
Why? To become the rubbish dump of the world?
Yes I recognize that there is abit of sediment flow to water, yes I do my bit with conservation plantings, and each yr. Yes I have a couple of sediment traps which do fill. So yes there is a level of perceived environmental degradation.
But is it sustainable. Lets talk about sustainability. I will claim that my business is environmentally sustainable. I am utilizing approx. 80% of DM grown. I will claim that I have applied fertilizer for 32 yrs of those 37, varying between 80- 135 T depending on the mix used. I will claim that I am growing up to 15000 kg DM/hec per ann. Thus there must be approximately 3 T of DM/hec/ann returned, and how much dung does 4200 SU return to the soil? Any body measured it. No neither have I, but I started farming all those yrs ago with 3300 SU. So I have demonstrated that there is a strong likely hood that farming my land is sustainable thus yours must be too.
What about our communities. Are they sustainable? Yes or no. Has our population grown in our towns? I say no. In fact the opposite. Are you better off financially? Than say 30 yrs ago. I say no. Why? Yes there has been farm amalgamations. Yes you can say the market and for many reasons.
But the over arching reason is all this environmental talk. I mean we cannot pump straight sewage where ever, but. We have this constant water degradation and unsustainable land use pushed at us all the time. Trees. Trees ladies and gentlemen. Now this is an assumption only, but for every hec of trees planted that is, say 8 SU less, = less people to work the stock, less truck drivers, less Shearer’s, less fencers, less stock agents, less banks, shops, and all those people who work in them, less teachers at school, less medical workers, and so it goes on. It is self-perpetuating. Spiraling down and down. Where are all the people going? Our cities, overseas, prison? All of these? There must a realization that our environment includes people. Our communities. We are the most important part of the environment. Stress people and we just take. I will make the assertion that our mountains and hills are trying to get back to sea level. They are constantly eroding naturally. That pasture is the best land use to slow that process. Lets look at these pictures in the Land Use Capability Hand Book. 3rd Edition. This is the guide that Horizons Land Officers use to classify the various LUC classifications for their Sustainable Land Use and Whole Farm Business Plans. A great example here on pgs 74-75. It is all falling down and all of it is in its natural state. Have you walked the Tongariro Crossing? The only thing keeping those mountains there is that they blow their tops now and again. Then these pine forests. The erosion within them is horrendous. Mike Gibbs used a really good photo in the Ruapehu press recently as his platform for election to the District Council. Pine trees stacked up in a gorgy creek. And they all had their root structure in place. I rang him. And as you know, they and other indigenous trees are cluttering up the Whanganui River bed.
Here on page 127 of the Hand Book is a really good example of a farm; it could even be one of your properties. There is not much left to be farmed if you consider just what this book leaves to be farmed. Here it is on page 77. Predominately LUC 6 and 7. Mostly 7. Suitable for grazing, some forestry. . Note some forestry. Grazing they say. The handbook says some forestry, yet recommended works programme on pg 131 says lots of forestry. Maybe 60-70% of property.
Here is an example of this. Report No 07-211 File No GE O7 02. 14/11/ 2006. This report discusses the amount of HEL land. HEL (Highly Erodible Land) land is a combination of geology, soil type, slope, rainfall and vegetation covers. This report appears to target land straight to water. For Ruapehu, approximately 40,00hec. Yet HEL land identified is approxately 80,000 hec. Thus I can claim that Horizons makes no distinction between HEL to water and HEL land. It is the one and the same. 80,000 hec is 25% of farmed land in Ruapehu. Note this report was presented to regional Councilors prior to the Notification of the One Plan in May 2007.
As a hearings commissioner on the One Plan Bio-diversity hearings, we heard evidence from staff, who presented a report titled, Past and Current indigenous Vegetation Cover, and the Justification for the Protection of Terrestrial Bio-diversity within the Manawatu Wanganui Region. This report identified Manuka as a potential future forest, which is needed to achieve a 30% forest cover for the region by 2050. Thus identifying the need for 1678 hec to be converted annually. Note Future Forest. Manuka is the first stage in the reversion of land to forest cover.
Lets discuss the Internal Policy Development Document. Land Use and Land Use Capability in the Manawatu Wanganui Region, May 2008/ INT/616. Page 154.Upper Whanganui Water Management Zone. ( Ruapehu) 67% or 252,000 hec identified as being in its native cover, yet they still want more. 93,000 hec in exotic cover. Then the 140,000 hec in LUC class 7-8 described on the same page, plus the Manuka scrub indigenous cover as described in the previous report should all of that area be actually taken from Ruapehu. By my calculation leaves only 178,000 hec to be farmed. And reducing yr on yr.
Now I do note that Federated Farmers past Chairman of the Meat and Fiber section split the beans. Keith Kelly.
Titled. Where did all the farmland go? The Government appears to have its sights set on retiring class 7-hill country land. This would result in 1.2 million hec of hill country land going out of production, mostly in the Nth Is. Especially Gisbourne and the Manawatu/Rangitikei Regions. Some Otago and Canterbury lands.
The News Letter includes a picture of a block of bush that eroded badly 2004 storm event. Mr. Kelly got sacked at the next AGM.
Lets consider Ruapehu’s population in the 1980’s. 15500 people. The District was humming. By the last census, 11,500. (2013/14) Thus If Horizons or should I say the Government are still looking for another 80,000 hec plus out of Ruapehu as per report 07-211 then one could argue that for every 23hec of farmed land retired then 1 person are lost. Thus another 3600 fall in our districts population is likely. What then for our essential services. Who is going to be left to pay the bills?
A subsequent report in November 2011 07-212 states that intensification of the balance will partially off set the productive loss of livestock, as will carbon credits and forestry?? $ From cleaner rivers and reduced erosion???
But Horizons Regional Councils MWRC-V-POP that fell out of the environment court process, chapter 1. Setting the Scene 2014 pg 11. May mean the introduction of new practices eg different stocking rates. The Notified version says intensification unsustainable.
I note that as of 2016, Horizons have achieved their One Plan target of 50% of farms in priority catchments with voluntary Plans. = 64%. So no excuses for regulatory controls? Or is there.
Stream bank fencing and Land retirement, in my view, will not work. It will not improve water quality. I include a very descriptive page of support for a report written by Stephanie Parkyn and Bob Wilcox, titled Impacts of Agricultural Land Use. It clearly shows the form of land in its indigenous state, wide and shallow, what happens when agricultural practices are introduced Narrow and deep, and what happens when stream bank fencing or land retirement is introduced. Back to it,s original form again. My concern is that water quality will still be assessed down stream and it will not be great. What then?
The report also describes Eels, being prolific in the warm streams whose grassy banks provide a great habitat.
Let us consider report 07-258, Regional Council agenda 18th Dec 2007. Titled Hydrology, 2.1. Records of Annual Maxima @ Paetawa recorder site, Whanganui River. It is my assertion based on this report, that the largest floods on the river were very early on in pre European and early European settlement. Early floods were assessed at 4300 Cu Mecs (1860) from old photographs, but could easily have been much larger.. These flooding intensities since the early 1900s are recorded and gradually decline through to the 1980,s, and 1400 Cu Mecs. I will state that this can be attributed to the conversion of forested lands to pasture over the ages to 1980 or there about. (End of the Land Development and Encouragement Scheme). Please note that from the late 1980’s on, flooding intensities have increased. It is my view that the conversion of farmed land to forestry is responsible.
Lets consider Mr. A Dons work in a Pasture, Pine and Native Forest Catchment in the Central Nth Island. Titled. Hydrology and Sediment Regime of a Pasture, Native Forest, and Pine Forest catchment in the Central North Island, New Zealand. You will find it in the NZ Journal of Forestry Science. The Catchment is the Purukohukohu Catchment. I will claim the study is somewhat contradictory, even subjective, But it is still very interesting and proves my assertion. Infiltration rates measured were 52mm/hour for pasture. 225mm/hr. for pine, and a whopping 600mm/hr. for the native!!! Of course the native catchment also recorded the highest rainfall and had higher minimum flows.
Whilst the study identifies pasture as having the highest sediment discharge, lets analysis the findings. Pine had the lowest discharge and was attributed to good channel lighting for at least ½ length, which was heavily vegetated by grasses, rushes, and willow weed, which stabilized the streambed and trapped suspended sediments?? High average concentrations from the native catchment were attributed to a readily erodible supply of stream sediments. These lay unconsolidated in the stream channel and were not stabilized by stream vegetation because of low light levels under the forest canopy.
The pasture discharge was ½ way between? pine and native is probably due to the highest peak flows, surface run off, modified by the stabilizing effect of luxurious channel grass growth.
Thus my interpretation is the pasture lets storm flow go straight away, whilst the pine and native catchments soak it up till the soils reach saturation and then look out. That is when you get the flooding intensities and the damage to infrastructure. I rest my case.
This report also discusses work carried out by Pearce and Mc Kercher (1979) who examined several catchments from throughout NZ, who found on average that storm flow ranged from 7-40% of gross rainfall in treed catchments, whilst pasture catchments only produced on average 0.4%.
Whilst the MWRC-V-POP still persists with the view that it is Unsustainable Hill Country Land Use, which is clogging up, the lowlands flood protection schemes. Horizons own report titled Review of Fluvial Science. CHC 2008-018. Written by NIWA scientist Graeme Smart, clearly states that it is the fine sediments of the lowland plains causing the problem, and it is the tightly constrained nature of the flood protection itself that is causing the loss of aquatic bio- diversity and water quality issues. Probably a few too many trout too.
This report also Discusses The Whanganui River, Stating that water quality above the gorge section is good, but that from the gorge section down it deteriorates. Why? This is the Whanganui National Park. Can it be because of all the timber lying in the riverbed, all with its root structure still visible? Imagine the amount of soil that would have been associated with such a erosion event, and all that bio-diversity which surely must die rotting away to water?
Mr. Smart gives plenty of references to back up his conclusions.
Lets talk about Carbon. A source of supplementary income. Since 2010 or there about, it has gone from $25/t to $2.40c and back up to $19 as of now. What is driving it? I will say speculators. NZX Firm. OMF. Monday the 12th September 2016. OMF’s Weekly Carbon Report states. Only selling we are seeing are speculators taking profit.
Recently I had an article pointed out to me. It is from the Straights Times, London. July the 9th 2016. Carbon Market facing a black hole. Free enterprise solution to saving the world now in danger it’s self. United States credits selling @ US$4.53. Euro credits at 4 euro. Per tonne. That is $5.66c NZ. Yet here in NZ, credits are selling for $18-19 /t. Why? Who is buying credits and why? Is such a market, determined by speculators, that is that would you want to be investing in? Is such a market appropriate for the environment? Here today gone tomorrow. What about you, me. Is our economy robust enough to save the world at these prices? At the mercy of a faceless speculator.
Here we have it ladies and gentlemen. Grasslands Ripe to be restored. Land care Researcher John Diamond. 2-million hec grassland can be restored to indigenous forest. NZ had another 700,00 hec of scrubland suitable for protection from clearance. This had a high carbon sequestration over stock carrying capacity ratio. This is published in January 2016.
I say a lot of this is in our catchment, and the Whangaehu Turakina water management zones. . See the HEL Catchment Management Zone Map.
So the purpose of my presentation is to show that Hill Country Land Use will be defined to be unsustainable. We will work with Horizons Land Management Team to implement the work programmes prescribed only to make matters worse. Greater sedimentation of waterways. Thus regulation of Land Use Activity is a certainty to achieve the Out Come Desired. Land Use Change. The General Overview for the One Plan Bio-diversity Provisions states. It is vital to protect, link, and expand our natural areas of bush, wetland, coastal and aquatic habitats.
To achieve those, Horizons needs the Nitrogen Leaching allowances described in table 14.2 chapter 14.
I have no doubt regulation of hill country land use is the outcome sought. Whether it be sub catchments by sub catchments or a blanket over the region. How soon? The One Plan is reviewed next year. Maybe the 2027 review. It might transpire that land use change will happen as it is now, with Carbon Farmers and Apiarists continuing to be active in the market until the desired area’s described are achieved.
I do not doubt that many of you have Nutrient Budgets prepared for your own farms. Many of you will know already if you can work within the Nitrogen Leaching Allowances as per table 14.2 chapter 14 One Plan with out dropping capital livestock. I am betting you cannot. Therefore the cost could well be large, ultimately having to be born by the industry and our communities.
Will tourism take up the unemployed that surely must come as a result? Is it safe to invest in Carbon Markets? What is the best use for your asset the land? What is best for your families your people, your communities, and yes even democracy?
Hope you find this of interest.
But to support my argument there was a very good article in this weeks NZ Farmer March the 5th, pg3. Forestry under Fire after Gita Hits.
Good god I have been pushing my theory for a number of years and no body has taken any notice of me. But here it is.