The Kaimai catchments will benefit from a community-driven approach to managing its natural resources following the signing of a partnership agreement today by the Department of Conservation, Environment Bay of Plenty and Environment Waikato.
The three agencies have formed the Kaimai Catchments Technical Advisory Group (KCTAG) with the aim of coordinating agency and community effort so that natural resources in the catchments can be protected and sustained.
Department of Conservation Tauranga Area Manager and KCTAG Chairperson, Andrew Baucke, says they’ve received feedback from the community about the issues of concern.
“Water quality, soil stability and forest health in the catchments, especially in the face of climate change, have all been mentioned,” Mr Baucke said. “They especially want to see a more integrated approach to managing the region’s natural resources.”
The Kaimai Ranges disperse water into two significant water bodies, the Tauranga Harbour and the Waihou River (which drains into the Firth of Thames). The catchments and the natural resources within them provide for the economic, social and cultural well being of the people in the region. They support uses such as agriculture, horticulture, recreation, conservation, forestry, electricity generation and water supply. Sustainable management of soil, water, vegetation and fauna are important to sustain these uses into the future.
The multi-agency KCTAG has developed a framework and project which proposes a catchment by catchment approach to developing community driven management planning and action. Their first action has been to commission a State of the Environment report for the catchments, which is due to be completed later this month.
Environment Bay of Plenty Land Resources Manager, Warwick Murray said the report will provide the group with an assessment of the relative health of the catchments.
“We felt that it was important to gather as much existing information as possible so that we could have informed dialogue with and between stakeholder groups,” Mr Murray said.
Environment Waikato Biosecurity & Natural Heritage Manager, John Simmons recognises the challenge but is not fazed by the enormity of the project.
“This project spans the boundaries of hundreds of landowners, two regional councils, five district councils and 11 iwi,” Mr Simmons said. “It’s a big job but it’s vital that we all work together if we want to protect the resources and create a prosperous future”.
In partnership with the KCTAG, the NZ Landcare Trust has secured $345,000 funding across the next three years from the Ministry for the Environment and appointed project co-ordinator Kate Akers, in order to facilitate and co-ordinate the next phase of the project.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the Kaimai communities on this exciting project” Ms Akers said. Her first step will be to share the report findings with key stakeholders and establish forums for them to discuss and develop their priorities and aspirations for the catchments into concrete plans.