B+LNZ’s Catchment e-Forum reinforces farmer-led change

// Extension

A Beef + Lamb New Zealand e-Forum highlighted the importance of catchment groups leading environmental change on-farm rather than it being forced by changes in Government policy.

The webinar, held last week, featured  six catchment leaders from across Aotearoa who shared their expertise and experience in establishing a successful catchment group.

Three key themes emerged: the significance of farmers leading change, the benefits of hiring a coordinator and the importance of groups connecting with the wider community. 

Three of the six groups represented were formed in response to regulations introduced by their regional councils. One such group was the Hurunui District Landcare Group which was formed in response to the Canterbury Land and Water Plan. The group sought to give sheep and beef farmers a voice and help to show the positive environmental work farmers in the area were doing. They came together and put data behind changes to the plan they believed were necessary, which was partially successful.

Hurunui District Landcare Group members then broadened their focus from the policy and looked to achieve more changes on the ground, where a lot of good can be done.

Benefits of employing a coordinator

The catchment e-forum also highlighted the benefits of employing a catchment coordinator. 

King Country River Care Coordinator, Anna Nelson recommended getting a coordinator sooner rather than later by pooling members’ resources so that action happens. 

Western Bay of Plenty farmer Rick Burke, who helped establish the Project Parore group, says having a facilitator helps bed down a plan of attack and there are usually people in catchment communities with the expertise.

Getting community involvement

Rangitikei Rivers Catchment Collective Chairman Roger Dalrymple highlighted the importance of connecting with local Iwi, activist groups and getting the wider community involved. 

Dalrymple says that you have the connect with the wider community, not just farmers, in order to drive change. His group have deliberately invited activist groups to meetings. 

“People have to be able to connect.”

Watch the webinar on YouTube here

The webinar will also be released shortly on B+LNZ’s website.

Launching B+LNZ’s Catchment Community Group Programme Online

The e-Forum replaced a face-to-face catchment workshop at which B+LNZ was going to officially launch its Catchment Community Group Programme. The workshop was cancelled due to COVID-19 and B+LNZ decided to launch the programme online through a phased approach.

The first phase was a social media competition asking catchment members to send in a one-minute video saying what’s great about their catchment. B+LNZ received entries from fourteen different catchment groups across Aotearoa. 

The three winners randomly drawn were:

  1. Charlotte McDonald (Chairman of the Maungaraki catchment community group).
  2. The King family (Member of the Porangahau catchment).
  3. Louise Totman (Member of the Rangitikei catchment collective).

The second phase was the webinar, focused on catchment leaders sharing their expertise and creating awareness that B+LNZ supports catchment groups through the programme.

More than a hundred people registered to join the e-forum which has received positive feedback from attendees.

B+LNZ’s Environment Capability Manger – North Island Richard Parkes praises the involvement of catchment groups in the launch of B+LNZ’s programme.

“As part of B+LNZ’s commitment to enhancing our sector's environmental position, we have continued to significantly lift our support for catchment groups.”

“We want to support farmers in taking a leadership role in their catchment group and have a number of resources to facilitate this on our website,” he says.