Why is biodiversity important on farm?
Biodiversity is a win-win – for you as a farmer and for your property’s ecosystem. Your production platform will produce more if your pasture is healthy, earthworms are active and insects and bees are busy.
Most activities that promote biodiversity have other positive spin offs. For instance, planting a shelterbelt – particularly of native varieties – provides a habitat and food for birds and insects, while also keeping stock cool or warm and preventing soil erosion.
Biodiversity is also important to our international customers – contributing to our positive environmental image.
Increasing biodiversity on your property
The New Zealand Landcare Trust is an independent charitable organisation that works with land user community to encourage and support sustainable land and water management. The trust is a great source of practical advice on to how to increase biodiversity.
It has produced a booklet, called “Biodiversity for Farmers” which includes case studies and practical steps you can take on farm to increase biodiversity, such as:
- Using native trees as shelterbelts – This provides stock with shelter, while also creating a habitat and food for birds and insects.
- Riparian enhancement – Improves water quality and provides habitat for native fish and waterfowl.
- Grazing management – For example, grazing Merino sheep in improved lowland country to take pressure off native grasslands.
- Bee friendly farming – Because we all need bees to do their important work - pollinating.
Set up a Landcare Group
There are more than 150 Landcare Groups around the country. Some are as small as two or three people with a shared interest in a specific ecosystem; others are larger groups working together on a catchment project.
The booklet, How to Set up a Landcare Group, summarises what works for successful groups. It covers getting started, the best structure, putting ideas into practice and maintaining momentum.
Protecting special areas through covenants
The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust (QEII Trust) helps private landowners in New Zealand permanently protect special natural and cultural features on their land with open space covenants.
The trust oversees 4300 covenants across 180,000 hectares. Two thirds of the covenants are on primary production land and 47% of all covenants (about 2000) are on sheep and beef properties.
- Understand what you need to protect – Ask the local QEII rep to visit your property and help you.
- Make a plan – Preferably one that ties in with your overall farm planning and financial capacity.
- Decide on your management approach – Usually a mix of one-off interventions (such as retirement fencing), on-going management (such as weed and pest control) and revegetation work to fill in gaps.
- Consider using a covenant – To ensure protection of your investment in land stewardship and to leave a legacy for the next generation.
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