$20 million DOC Fonterra partnership to restore wetlands

  • Nick Smith

A 10-year partnership signed today between the Department of Conservation and Fonterra to restore waterways in Northland, Waikato, Canterbury and Southland is a major breakthrough, says Conservation Minister Hon Dr Nick Smith.

“Fonterra’s commitment of $20m is the largest ever corporate contribution to conservation work. It will fund a massive programme to be undertaken with communities to restore wetland habitats, better control nutrients, reduce pests and weeds and enhance native wildlife,” Dr Smith says.

“The investment is important but the partnership is even more significant. The greatest benefit from this DOC/Fonterra agreement is getting conservationists and farmers side-by-side in their local communities doing the practical work to improve waterways.

“The $20 million over 10 years is committed to five sensitive catchments – the Kaipara Harbour in Northland, the Firth of Thames and the Areare, Ruatuna and Rotomanuka Peat Lakes in Waikato, Lake Ellesmere in Canterbury and Waituna Lagoon in Southland.”

The next step will be forming local teams of farmers, conservationists, local authorities and iwi to develop action plans for each water body. The focus is on improving water quality and enhancing the habitat for native species like mudfish, bittern, fernbirds and long-finned eel.

“DOC and Fonterra working so closely together will come as a bit of a shock for some conservationists and farmers who see the two groups as protagonists and not partners. This is DOC wanting to help Fonterra succeed as New Zealand’s largest exporting business and major land user and Fonterra adding its muscle to DOC’s critical work caring for the natural environment.

“This partnership is part of the Government’s Bluegreen agenda of drawing business and conservation closer together to support economic growth and jobs while protecting our natural environment and great Kiwi lifestyle,” Dr Smith says.