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Taranaki Shines in Environmental Stewardship

Taranaki Regional Council’s (TRC) State of the Environment report illustrates the benefits of a positive approach to environmental stewardship based on education, communication, peer pressure and the ability of regional councils to enforce compliance.

“The report shows that the water quality of Taranaki’s streams and rivers has improved significantly over the past 20 years despite a 250% increase of the number of dairy cows, says Federated Farmers’ Taranaki President Neville Hagenson.

“Over the last 20 years industry, agriculture and the community have invested over $130 million on protecting water quality. Significant improvements have been made in water quality of lower catchments (farming areas).

“Some of the credit for improved water quality can go to TRC’s voluntary farm planning service which takes an educative approach to water quality and provides 'at cost' riparian plants to farmers. 380 riparian plans have been taken up with over 280,000 plants planted, all on a voluntary basis.

“All 2229 dairy farms in Taranaki have effluent treatment and disposal systems and resource consents. Compliance is high at 90-95%.

“To quote Hon. Marian Hobbs TRC’s slogan ‘working with people, caring for our environment’ is indeed an excellent basis on which to undertake proactive environmental management involving the whole community.’

“Given this statement it is curious that the Ministers for the Environment and Agriculture have endorsed Fonterra imposing regulations on dairy farmers without their consent.”

Dairy Cattle Numbers Increase

Dairy cattle numbers have increased by 34 percent since 1994, according to final figures from Statistics New Zealand's 2002 Agricultural Production Census. There were 5.2 million dairy cattle as at 30 June 2002, compared with 3.8 million in 1994. Waikato remains the region with the highest number of dairy cattle, recording 1.7 million as at 30 June 2002, an increase of 16 percent since 1994.

In the same period, South Island dairy cattle numbers have increased by 0.8 million to reach 1.3 million. Twenty-six percent of the national herd were in the South Island as at 30 June 2002, compared with 15 percent in 1994. Sixty-eight percent of the South Island dairy herd came from the Canterbury (0.5 million) and Southland (0.4 million) regions.

Since the 1994 census of agriculture, the total sheep flock has decreased by 9.9 million to reach 39.5 million. The Canterbury region, despite a 2.0 million decrease in numbers (the highest overall decrease), still has the most sheep, with 7.8 million. Other regions showing large decreases were Southland, down 1.9 million to 6.0 million; Otago down 1.5 million to 6.1 million; Waikato down 1.0 million to 2.6 million; and Manawatu-Wanganui down 0.9 million to 6.6 million.

Land use patterns have changed since 1994, and this is reflected in a 12 percent decrease in the area of grazing, arable and fallow land, to 12.0 million hectares as at 30 June 2002. Over the same period, the area of planted production forest has increased from 1.5 million hectares to 1.9 million hectares, and the area of land used for horticulture has increased 6 percent to 110,000 hectares.

The net area planted in wine grapes was 17,400 hectares as at 30 June 2002. The Nelson/Marlborough region recorded 43 percent of New Zealand's total net area planted with 7,500 hectares, making it the largest wine grape growing region. The Otago/Southland region has become New Zealand's fourth-largest wine grape growing region behind Nelson/Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne.

Since 1994, the area in planted production forest has increased by 26 percent to 1.9 million hectares as at 30 June 2002. The North Island has 72 percent of New Zealand's planted production forest. New Zealand's largest region is the Waikato region, with 0.33 million hectares, followed by the Bay of Plenty region with 0.27 million hectares. The North Island harvested 77 percent by volume of New Zealand's exotic timber harvest during the year ended 31 December 2001.

Further results from the 2002 Agricultural Production Census will be released during June 2003. These can be obtained from the Statistics New Zealand website ( or the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry website (

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