Million Metres Streams Project
A Sustainable Business Network crowd funding initiative to encourage more riparian planting
John and Geraldine Taylor, beef and dairy support farmers in the Te Arai/Tomarata district north-east of Wellsford have joined the Million Metres Stream Project to secure crowd funding for riparian planting of 1.2km on the Waiteitei Stream in the Hoteo River catchment, which feeds the Kaipara Harbour. The target is $21,456 at $18/metre for buying and contract planting of 10,000 plants, throughout winter.
John and Geraldine’s 139 ha drystock farm, Tomarata Farms contains the Waiteitei stream tributary of Hoteo River and for the past 10 years, the Taylors have been progressively fencing their waterways, gullies and wetlands.
They now have an area of 1.74ha of riparian zones varying in width from 4m to 20m that require planting and could utilize the Million Metres funding approach. John says it would take many years for them to fund and plant such a large area. The alternative through the Million Metres of Streams project means that donors can enable the whole retirement area to be planted quickly, to provide encouragement to land holders with waterways and publicity for the crowdfunding campaign.
The Taylors lease 39ha alongside their farm that contains riparian strips that were retired and planted several years ago and the results have provided inspiration to the Taylors as to what can be achieved on their own property.
This crowd funding campaign will enable the next stage of environmental protection which is re-vegetating one of the main gullies that cradles the Waiteitei stream, a tributary of the Hoteo. At 28km long, the Hoteo is Auckland’s largest in volume, length and catchment size. It drains approximately 408km2 into the ecologically sensitive Kaipara Harbour. Sediment is identified as the most important threat to health to both the river and the Kaipara, and the catchment is a significant contributor. This sediment has a strong negative impact on the seagrass meadows in the Kaipara Harbour, critical breeding grounds for 90% of the snapper found off the west coast.
John and Geraldine believe you can’t farm now like you did 50 years ago, and that farmers need to make a mind shift to embrace environmental challenges like this one. As members of the Forest Bridge Trust – a farmer-initiated environment trust that supports outstanding land stewardship in the Hoteo catchment, they are acting on the vision to create a thriving corridor from the Omaha Estuary on the East Coast to the southern Kaipara Harbour. This will not only help reduce sediment reaching the Kaipara snapper breeding grounds, but will also improve the biodiversity of the waterway and catchment. Having observed first hand the benefits of excluding stock from the most marginal land on their property, the Taylors are strong advocates for sustainable land management.
The Auckland Council is the field partner for the Hoteo project and the plants sourced from the giant Kauri Park nursery, near Kaiwaka.
Planting takes place between May and September when there’s enough moisture in the ground to help new plants get established. The planting days are run by stream landowners and community groups in conjunction with field partners.
At the end of the planting season, donors get an update on restoration progress, including the number of metres planted, photos, and if available, data showing observable changes in restored streams.
The principle behind the Million Metres Streams Project is to make investment in improving the health of New Zealand waterways accessible and inviting to everyone, especially urban people, and not just leave the cost and effort to the landowners. Many landcare groups around the country are working on riparian retirement, fencing and planting and the MMSP concept is to put real financial horsepower behind these groups, and individual landowners. “A million metres is an inspirational target over a 10 year time frame”, Georgina Hart explains.
The project website says; “we invite you all to take part, to fund your metre (or more) of streambank and be part of this national story of how New Zealanders collectively took action to protect something that was important to them, and together, succeeded. After all, what’s more valuable than our water? Planting a million metres of riparian margins isn’t the whole solution to our freshwater crisis, but it’s a significant step forward. And it’s something you can do right now.”
“We aim to more than double the metres we help fundraise year on year for the next two years. To achieve this we’ll be out there connecting stream restoration and catchment groups to millionmetres.org.nz. We’ll also be supporting these groups to raise money, and connecting concerned individuals and businesses with this great opportunity to contribute to improving waterway health in New Zealand. We believe that to get the scale of stream restoration that New Zealand needs, we’re all going to have to get behind stream groups and support them. If we all give just a little bit each, we can raise the funds needed to restore waterways all around the country.”
The Department of Conservation is a major supporter of the MMS project through the funding of manager Georgina Hart. Georgina also utilises Facebook and Instagram to contact potential donors.