Encouraging farmer participation and leadership in catchment community groups can represent a rural voice that can help build more resilient communities that can respond to local opportunities or issues.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand understands the importance of catchment community groups and the positive impacts they can have on farming communities. We encourage and support farmers to take active roles in local catchment community groups to help work towards achieving the groups vision and goals.
This is integral to our vision of ‘Sustainable and profitable farmers, thriving rural communities, valued by New Zealanders’.
We offer farmers and catchment community groups a range of resources to support your work including e-forums, e-learning modules, a national catchment map, catchment facilitation training, podcasts, and fact sheets. As well as this we also offer farm plan workshops and a range of other resources available on our Knowledge Hub.
Catchment Groups Map
This map allows you to connect with other catchment community groups. See where they are, add your own and connect.Access map
Frequently Asked Questions
A Catchment Community Group is a gathering of people, working together, who identify with a geographical area, often based on a river or lake catchment or who connect socially within a farming district.
Catchment Community Groups form to achieve a long-term vision, based on a thriving community and a healthy environment (such as freshwater health, soil health, biodiversity, climate change resilience and adaptation).
The reasons why you might get together are different for every group, but some of the common themes are:
- Allowing communities to create and own their future.
- Get a greater return on your individual actions and connect them to meet catchment priorities.
- Supporting sustainable land use and freshwater ecosystem health
- Establish an authoritative voice with decision makers and shape rules – working together to influence regional plans.
- Engage with, connect and empower your wider community.
- Create and demonstrate a catchment story and highlight the great progress that farmers are making to improve the environment.
- Kaitiakitanga – for your children’s children.
- Improve profitability – creating a demonstrable local story that leads to a value-added product (e.g. Taupo Beef).
Spend some time at the very start to understand what’s bringing you together in the first place and why your community and individuals want to start a catchment group.
There are five key steps to setting up and running a farmer driven catchment community group.
- Step 1: Understand the why – What are the reasons why community members want to form a Catchment Community Group?
- Step 2: What is already great- what assets do you already have? What information do we already know about our catchment - this could include reports from regional councils; water monitoring information; your community assets, actions that have already been taken, people skills, schools and halls, tourism or simply a photo of some of the great stuff going on in your catchment.
- Step 3: Define a shared vision. Identify what your vision is for your catchment, how do you want things to look in 5, 10, 20 years’ time? Make sure you can generate as widespread buy-in to that as possible.
- Step 4: Decide what actions you want to take – make an action plan. What steps are needed to fill the gaps in your knowledge or the gaps between what you have in your catchment now and what your shared vision is? Delegate and share tasks, set time frames. Use SMART goals (specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-bound). Make an achievable plan.
- Step 5: How are you going to tell your story. Understanding how you are going to measure your progress and asking yourselves are we on track? What is going well? What do we need to work on? This is just as important as forming a group itself. Measurement can be as simple as recording your actions through photos.
Catchment Community groups take many forms from informal structures (with members sharing the coordination role and teams established for small tasks) to more formal structures (with assigned roles, such as treasurer, secretary, chairperson and a committee, and often a membership subscription).
Establishing a formal group either as an incorporated society or a charitable trust can support this and makes it easier to apply for funding and collect member subscriptions.
View an example of the rules of a group who has formed an incorporated society.
We are working to develop more resources to help you make the most of working in a catchment community group for the future of your catchment and community.
There are some great examples of what catchment community groups have done around the country in different stages of their development and in taking action.
View an example of how a catchment community group is supporting the uptake of good management practice.
Hear about the value catchment community groups can add to our environment and our businesses, whatever the industry, as well as the benefits to farmers and non-farmers in a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Scene + Herd podcast/webinar.
If you are interested in forming a Catchment Community Group, you can click through this e Learning Module which highlights the first steps.
The first step is to have a chat with people in your community to find out if this is something people want to do. If the answer is yes, we have developed a workshop to support groups to develop a comprehensive Catchment Action Plan.
If you are interested in having one of these workshops run for your group or if you want to talk more about the Catchment Community Group Programme or get some advice on getting started, then please contact your Extension Manager.
Need help drafting your rules?
Every incorporated society is required to have a constitution or set of rules, stating clearly how it intends to be run. To help you draft your constitution, the New Zealand Companies Office has designed the Constitution Builder, a ‘do-it-yourself’ online tool for writing or revising your society’s rules. Get started.