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Evaluation of the integrated catchment management pilot project - final report June 2009

TR 2009/17

Report: TR 2009/17

Author: Ruth Hungerford, Momentum Research & Evaluation

Abstract

 In 2006, Waikato Regional Council identified that agricultural practices were contributing to rising nutrient levels within the region’s waterways, and particularly within the Waikato hydro lakes. In response, they launched a three year intensive policy implementation pilot process, the integrated catchment management (ICM) pilot project, within two of the region’s sub-catchments.

The objective of the ICM pilot project was to investigate the potential effectiveness of ICM approaches in achieving sustainable improvements in water quality.

The two catchments, Little Waipa and the Waipapa were chosen because they were of a manageable size, were representative of land use within the Waikato region, had a large agricultural component, had a trend of increasing nutrient leaching (and this was able to be monitored), had a mix of relationships with Waikato Regional Council, and did not have significant geothermal issues .

In order to monitor the pilot and determine its effectiveness, the project team developed an evaluation plan with seven key areas to measure. Procedures to collect and collate data relevant to the success areas were incorporated into the project. These included staff collecting and reporting on some information and an independent evaluator collecting and reporting on some information.

The independent evaluation was introduced early in the project and regularly fed back into the project as it progressed.  Independent evaluation activities included interviews with participating and non-participating farmers, interviews with industry representatives, analyses of spreadsheet data and facilitated meetings with ICM staff.

Evaluation of the integrated catchment management pilot project - final report June 2009
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Table of contents

  Acknowledgement i
  Executive summary v
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Background 1
1.2 Integrated Catchment Management 1
1.2.1 ICM pilot project 1
1.3 This document 2
2 The catchments 2
2.1 Catchment location and land use 2
2.2 Nutrient issues 3
2.2.1 Water quality 3
2.2.2 Nutrient leaching loads 4
2.3 The catchments: summary 5
3 Adoption of innovations 5
3.1 Key points from literature 5
3.2 Adoption of innovations: summary 8
4 Methodology 8
5 Findings 8
5.1 Project activities and timeline 8
5.1.1 Project plan 8
5.1.2 Project activities 9
5.1.3 Project management and staffing 10
5.1.4 Timeframes 10
5.1.5 Project activities and timeline: summary 12
5.2 Engagement 12
5.2.1 Farmer engagement in ICM 12
5.2.2 Opinions about Environment Waikato 16
5.2.3 Understanding of the issues 16
5.2.4 Engagement: summary 17
5.3 Communication 17
5.3.1 Field days 17
5.3.2 Communication: summary 18
5.4 Farm planning process 18
5.4.1 Farm plans 18
5.4.2 Referral and other sources of information 19
5.4.3 Farm planning process: summary 19
5.5 Actions undertaken 19
5.5.1 Tracking actions 19
5.5.2 Action uptake 20
5.5.3 Reasons for uptake 20
5.5.4 Reasons for uptake of actions and benefits on-farm 21
5.5.5 Barriers to uptake of actions 23
5.5.6 Actions undertaken: summary 24
5.6 Environment Waikato systems 24
5.6.1 Reporting 24
5.6.2 Internal systems 24
5.6.3 Environment Waikato systems: Summary 25
5.7 Feedback to policy 25
5.7.1 Feedback to policy: summary 26
5.8 Science and process development 26
5.8.1 Use of models 26
5.8.2 Industry collaboration 26
5.8.3 Science and process development: summary 27
5.9 The impact of nutrient reduction strategies 27
5.9.1 Case studies 27
5.9.2 Impact on leaching 28
5.9.3 The ‘gap model’ 30
5.9.4 Impact of strategies: summary 31
6 Discussion 32
7 Recommendations 33
  References 35