|Quarterly Update:||December 2005|
|Newsletter:||March 2005 [PDF 700K ]|
|August 2005 [PDF 523K ]|
|Booklet:||Native Trees On Farms [PDF 966K]|
|Updated:||01 February 2008|
This project aims to gather information from farmers and land managers on the useful functional roles that native plants have within their farm enterprises, and to disseminate that information to others not yet convinced that indigenous species have a place in our production landscapes. The project will seek knowledge from farmers who have experience in successfully utilising native plants, compile that knowledge in accessible media (printed and electronic), and distribute the information gained. The project will operate across two regions, Waikato and Northland. In each region the following stages will be implemented:
1) Engaging land managers with experience in biodiversity integration to document their knowledge and experience with using native trees on farms (what has been done). This will involve carrying out a series of targeted interviews with nominated land managers and consultants in a focus group setting. A basic information set will be developed which incorporates key system functions performed by native trees, establishment and ongoing management issues, and monitoring approaches.
2) Incorporating wider community knowledge and experience in the context of a workshop series. A series of general-invite workshops will be held in sub-regions to glean additional practical experience from land managers. At these workshops, the basic information from the first stage will be presented, and participants invited to contribute their own experience.
3) Applying the knowledge gained to regular farm systems (what could be done). The real challenge is to move beyond working with those land managers sympathetic to biodiversity goals, to the wider farming community currently less inclined. Focus groups drawn from monitor farm discussion groups in the dairy and sheep/beef sectors will be invited to consider the management practices derived from the first and second stages of the project, and develop feasible land-use plans in a case study approach that incorporate the use of natives to create options for long-term diversified production.
4) The final stage of the project will be the dissemination of all the information gained from both regions to the wider rural community and policy agencies. Several outputs will form the dissemination of information collated from the first three stages in each region. These will include regional NZ Landcare Trust and NZ Farm Forestry Association workshops, development of a website, and a professionally presented hard copy publication.
There is already a substantial pool of experience and knowledge in rural communities about how to successfully establish and manage native trees on farms. Many land managers have achieved successful integration of biodiversity and production goals; hence there is an opportunity to capture and spread their knowledge more widely. However, there is a major problem in terms of the perception in the wider farming sector that establishing native vegetation represents a huge cash and opportunity cost, with minimal benefits to the systems that farmers manage. The project will address the problem of perceived lack of value of native species by specifically focussing on the useful functional roles that natives can fulfil within farm systems. The project will also address the knowledge/motivation gap between farmers by working with both experienced and knowledgeable farmers and professionals (stage 1), as well as those who currently have not considered the role of biodiversity on their farm (stage 3). The project will also take advantage of the opportunity to produce a publication that integrates the wide range of information pertaining to native trees on farms which is currently dispersed amongst various agencies (CRIs, regional councils etc.)
No specific public events took place during this quarter. The farmer case studies and technical articles for the publication were completed in draft form and edited by Helen Ritchie for inclusion in the draft of the final booklet. Members of the project team spent several days with the contract photographer at the case study sites, as well as compiling a photo library from various sources as a resource for the publication.
The publication team (a subset of the project team, including the compiler & production editor) met once during the quarter to monitor progress and set production milestones. The format of the publication will be as follows:
Foreword (Tanes Tree Trust)
Introduction scope of the bulletin
Section 1: Why use native plants on farms general concepts, farmer reasons, frequent objections and responses, case study.
Section 2: Functions of native trees on farms subsections, each with case studies, on shade & shelter, erosion & flood control, riparian planting & water quality, timber, non-timber products, aesthetics & property value, creating & enhancing habitat, carbon credits
Section 3: Planning, planting & protecting subsections on planning, prioritising, location, species, poisonous plants, timing, design, fencing, site preparation, obtaining plants, planting, maintenance, covenants, tax issues.
A first draft will be sent to reviewers by the end of January.
The second series of open-invite workshops were held as planned on 5th April (Paeroa), 8th April (Otorohanga), 11th April (Whangarei) and 12th April (Kaeo). The programme at each workshop included:
Attendance at the workshops was approx 20 at Paeroa, 30 at Otorohanga, 70 at Whangarei and 50 at Kaeo.
Motivations for using native trees on farms: we presented the 10 main motivations for managing native trees, derived from the 2004 workshops, to each group and asked individuals to rate them according to whether they were weak or strong motivations for them. Personal interest and conservation motivations appeared to be the strongest for most people, followed by environmental outcomes (described as things like water quality and carbon sinks). Appropriate land management and stewardship motivations were also relatively strong. By contrast financial motivations were relatively weak for most people. Other motivations (stock management, recreation, education/research and land value) were very evenly spread.
Information sources about native trees on farms: we presented the major sources of information on native trees, derived from the 2004 workshops, to each group and asked individuals to rate them according to how frequently they used them. Books and personal experience were sources that were used very frequently by most people, followed by regional council and nursery resources, as well as local examples and family members. By contrast NGOs (including QEII trust, landcare Trust) and scientists were sources used less frequently by most people
Monitoring: we asked the groups what monitoring they had used to determine the benefits and gains from managing native trees. In most cases there was no formal monitoring, and the main approach was visual, focussing on increases in regeneration and native plant diversity, and decreases in weeds and pests. In a few cases these observations were formalised by photographs taken through time. A handful of farmers were measuring tree growth in terms of height/diameter and one farmer had information from annual bush monitoring by a school group.
Quantitative gains: we asked farmers to quantify the benefits of managing native trees on their farms. In most cases they were able to cite numerous benefits that could be measured (listed below) but were unable to quantify them. A handful of farmers gave rough estimates (e.g. a 20% increase in lambing with native shelter)
The project team have decided to publish the final booklet for this project as a continuation of the recent series of Forest Research/Tane Tree Trust booklets written by David Bergin and others (see www.tanestrees.org.nz/pubs.php for details). This series has focussed on managing native tree species for mainly production purposes, and has set a high standard for quality of presentation and content. We are in discussions with the Forest Research (now Scion) publications team to facilitate production and have also contracted Helen Ritchie to edit the material developed in the course of this project.
The second series of open-invite workshops has been planned for early April, dates being 5th April (Paeroa), 8th April (Otorohanga), 11th April (Whangarei) and 12th April (Kaeo). The programme will include the following:
The first newsletter for the project was produced with the assistance of Landcare Trust and Environment Waikato staff. Unfortunately there were unforeseen delays in finalising this newsletter, resulting from the ill health of the compiler. A copy is attached to this report as a PDF document. This newsletter will be mailed to approx. 200 farmers in the Waikato & Northland. Our mailing list is made up of Tanes Tree Trust members, and contact lists sourced from the Landcare Trust, Environment Waikato, the Farm Environment Awards and Northland Regional Council. The newsletter will also be placed on the Tanes Tree Trust website. We anticipate producing the second newsletter by the end of the April-June Quarter.
Following an interview with Mike Dodd, an article on the project appeared in the February issue of Coast & Country rural newspaper, distributed through the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.
The first series of 'expert practitioner' workshops have been planned for the end of April (in Northland) and early May (in the Waikato). About 26 attendees have been confirmed for the three Northland workshops, and about 30 for the four Waikato workshops. The workshop design has been completed, and includes questions around the decision-making process for farmers who have planted and managed natives (e.g. why they used natives and how they matched plants to functions required for particular sites), the interactions between the native plants and farm management, and the farmers expectations for those plants in the medium and long term. The workshops will be half-day events, facilitated by NZ Landcare Trust and regional council staff, and including research updates from CRI scientists. A draft structure for the eventual publication of the information has been developed, and includes sections on common issues and perceptions with native plants, planning and information guidelines, key functions that natives can perform in farm environments, some economic analyses, and guidelines for getting on with it.