Catchment Community Group Programme

Encouraging and supporting farmers to work together at a significant scale is a key part of implementing Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Environment Strategy. When it comes to environmental management – how do farmers get runs on the board at scale? By being part of a farmer-led Catchment Group.
What are Catchment Groups?

A catchment group is a gathering of people, working together, who identify with a geographical area, usually based on a river or lake catchment.

Catchment groups form to take actions to achieve a long-term vision based on a healthy environment (from water quality to biodiversity goals) and a thriving community.

Why form a Catchment Group?

Farmer-led catchment groups are a great platform for building thriving farming communities, valued by all New Zealanders.

To be effective, you need to spend a good amount of time agreeing what’s bringing you together in the first place. The reasons why you might get together are different for every group, but some of the reoccurring themes are:

  • Create and own your future.

  • Get a greater return on your individual actions and connect them to meet catchment priorities.

  • 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.

  • Improve profitability – creating a demonstrable local story that leads to a value-added product (e.g. Taupo Beef).

  • Kaitiakitanga – for your children’s children.

What really makes a Catchment Group tick?

There are six key steps to setting up and running a highly effective farmer driven catchment group.

Step 1: Understand the why  what’s the reason you are coming together?

Step 2: Form a group – define a vision.

Step 3: Undertake a catchment stocktake – what are all the great things happening already? What information do you have? What are the gaps?

Step 4: Decide what actions you want to take – make a plan.

Step 5: Implement and measure – measurement might be as simple as a photo point.

Step 6: Review, evaluate and tell your story.

Download our quick guide to setting up a catchment group (PDF, 657KB)

Group structure

Catchment groups take many forms from informal, with members sharing the coordination role and teams established for small tasks to a more formal structure, 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.

The role of a Coordinator

Research tells us a coordinator makes a huge difference to the success of a group – think early about how you could fund someone to help you and what you need from them.

View an example of a service agreement and job description for a catchment coordinator.

Resources for Catchment Communities

We are working together with Landcare Trust to develop more shared resources to help you make the most of working in a catchment group for the future of your catchment and community.

There are some great examples of what catchment groups have done around the country in different stages of their development and in taking action. 

View an example of how a catchment group is supporting the uptake of good management practice.

Read more about the successes of different groups.

Find out more

If you want to talk more about the Catchment Group Programme or get some advice on getting started, then please contact your Extension Manager.