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Land use in the Waikato

We have different land types in the Waikato region which suit different uses. We may damage the land by using it in a way not suited to its soil. Good land management practices help us protect our soils.

Merchant's farm, Mahoenui On this page: Our land resource, Major land uses, Effects of land use, Looking after the land

Our land resource

Only five percent of New Zealand’s soils are good enough to be used for many different purposes (including cropping, horticulture, pasture and forestry). Soils that can be used for many different purposes are said to be highly versatile. Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t make the best use of these highly versatile soils. We may put roads or buildings on top of them, making them unavailable for other uses.

Two thirds of our soils need special management to maintain their quality and stability. How we manage the land has become a critical issue.

Major land uses

In the Waikato region, pastoral farming (58 percent) and exotic forestry (12 percent) are the main productive land uses. Check out the Waikato region's main land uses on our regional land use map. Find out more about our monitoring of land use change in the Region.

Native forests and wetlands cover 28 percent of the Waikato region. This may sound like a lot, but it’s not when compared with 1840 figures. Since 1840, about three quarters of our native vegetation has been converted to farms and exotic forests.

Effects of land use

We depend on agriculture and forestry for much of our region's wealth. But farming, horticulture and forestry can put pressure on soils.

As long as people are farming land, there will be increased erosion. Repeated cultivation or cropping reduces soil organic matter and microbial activity.

In comparison, while the trees are growing, production forestry may have good effects on land and water. But there can be negative effects during harvesting. This is because harvesting the logs can disturb the soil and increase erosion. The erosion can lead to more sediment in waterways.

How we use the land can affect our water in a number of ways. Find out about how land use affects Lake Taupo.

Good land management practices can reduce our impacts on soils and water.

Looking after the land

If we want our land use to be sustainable long term, we need to monitor our soils and follow good land management practices. A good way to learn about good land management is to join or start a local Care group.