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Published: 2007-07-19 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is offering free environmental advice to land owners converting forestry blocks to farms in the area around the upper Waikato River.

Converting land from forest to pasture carries a number of short and long term risks including erosion, extra sediment and water run-off, reduced water quality and increased flooding.

Many of these risks can be avoided or minimised by planning the conversion process carefully and designing the farm layout to allow for things like keeping stock out of waterways and locating farm dairies and other facilities away from the flow of stormwater.

The new Forestry to Farming guide released today by the Forest to Farming Group is one resource land owners carrying out conversions can use to help identify the issues they need to manage.

“The guide draws on the experiences of several land owners who have already completed conversions and want to pass on the lessons they learned,” said Environment Waikato’s environmental education programme manager Alan Campbell.

“To help land owners understand how the issues raised in the guide apply to their block, we’ve contracted environmental consultants Norm Ngapo and Andy Woodhouse to provide a free ‘pine-to-pasture’ advisory service.”
The consultants will be available to visit conversion sites, discuss development plans, identify potential environmental effects of what is planned, and discuss solutions.

“These conversions have the potential to impact on the environment, but assessing all the implications will take time. In the meantime, we want to work cooperatively with farmers to help them minimise the environmental impact of what they are doing now, and ensure their farms are environmentally sound for the future,” said Mr Campbell.

Ideally, advice should be sought in the planning stage of conversions, Mr Campbell said. “But even if your conversion is well under way or has been completed, there are still benefits in taking advantage of free advice to address environmental risks and issues.”

Land owners who would like to take advantage of this service should call Norm Ngapo on 027 2902 402 or Andy Woolhouse on 027 292 3138.