Chief Executive of NZ Landcare Trust, Nick Edgar

April 2008
Roger: Welcome back. My guest this week is Chief Executive of New Zealand Landcare Trust, Dr Nick Edgar. Nick, thanks for joining us.

Nick: Good morning Roger, nice to be here.

Roger: What motivates the trust?

Nick: Really agricultures a particular conversation with nature, and the question for me is how sustainable is that conversation, and I think in a general way thats where the Landcare Trust is trying to apply its staff and processes what can we do to work with the rural community to ensure that farming is capable of generating wealth, but also leaving behind a healthy environmental legacy for future generations.

Roger: Youre not the only group doing that; whats the trusts niche?

Nick: Very good question. Partly the trust is a national organization, so it separates itself out from a lot of territorial authority and local government agencies because of its national breadth. Its also an independent organization so it doesnt have the baggage of being a regulatory authority or the ties directly to industry, so we have a very neutral platform in which to work and engage with rural landowners.

Roger: What binds the trust itself together, because you do have a very mixed bag of members?

Nick: Well the trust has seven trustee organizations on the board: Fishing Game, Federated Farmers, Rural Women, Federation of Maori Authorities, Federated Mountain Clubs, Ecologic formerly the Maruia Society, and Royal Forest and Birds Society. So the dynamics are pretty interesting, to have Fishing Game and Federated Farmers at the board table, theres some very robust conversations Id have to say, but it also means that youve got a whole range of very key stakeholders in the rural environment working together to support the aims of the Landcare Trust.

Roger: Are there any new projects that we should be aware of?

Nick: This episode includes the end of a really fascinating project looking at dry land management in the Starborough Flaxbourne region, but the trust also has a range of brand new projects just beginning this financial year. That includes projects on the Rotorua Lakes and also the Waikato Lakes and Wetlands.

Roger: How does the trust go about transferring information from its projects to farmers or end users?

Nick: Well a lot it happens very much face-to-face. We organize a lot of public events; a lot of forums; a lot of field days; a lot on on-farm workshops, where we get research providers to showcase the work theyve been doing on best-management practices and mitigation options to reduce nutrient and sediment leakage or export from farms into waterways, so the trust organizes a range of communication events where land owners can come along and look at different farming practices, or different ways of incorporating science and technology into their farming systems to become more environmentally sustainable.

Roger: So you do try to make sure that the solutions you provide are economic and practical?

Nick: The research is basically vetted by farmers and landowners directly. Theyre directly involved in these projects, they participate in the management groups for the projects, the projects that are undertaken on-farm with farmers directly, and these workshops are opportunity for farmers to provide feedback on whether these solutions or these approaches to improving the environmental sensitivity of farming are actually practical, are economically affordable, and achievable.

Roger: Nick, thanks for joining us.

Nick: Thank you.