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Looking after this land

Creating sustainable places

Council’s Healthy Streams programme funds our work to improve freshwater quality around Nelson. We do this through championing work to reduce pollution and erosion across many different areas of land use.

We provide funding for environmental projects on public and private land through our Environmental Grants Scheme.

The quality of any freshwater body – river, stream, lake – is directly related to the land around it. If the land is in its natural state – for example, native forest or grassland, or original wetland, it’s likely that the waterbody will be in its natural state of good health.

However as land is developed for whatever purpose – farming, housing, industrial development or roading, this immediately impacts on the health of nearby freshwater as rain, run-off and stormwater carry soil, chemicals and manure into the river.

There are lots of things we can to do protect and restore our waterways, and these mostly revolve around managing the land in a way that enhances water quality by reducing pollution.

One of the most effective things we can do is to plant trees and grasses on our land, as these are the best natural protectors – they filter out the bad stuff, provide shade to keep the water cool and stop bare earth getting washed away as well as providing habitat for native fauna.

It’s most important to do this right next to the river or stream, but it’s also important for surrounding hillsides. When it rains, bad stuff can be carried a long way by stormwater, either overland or through stormwater drains, into the rivers. Whatever is happening in those hills all around Nelson is having an impact on how clean our rivers are. And that is what Healthy Streams is trying to fix.

We’ve been working with landowners in North Nelson to encourage them to manage their land in a way that will improve the health of the Wakapuaka River. Some of them live a long way from the river, but what happens on their land still has an impact. Our key message is, simply, “Plant trees.”

But planting trees is expensive, time-consuming and hard work. So we’re doing what we can to help, and the message we’re getting back is that it is also very rewarding and that some people, once they start, don’t know when to stop!

We’re helping by providing advice, expertise and helping with supplying native trees. Native trees are the best solution as they are well adapted to Nelson conditions, and they provide food and habitat for our native creatures – birds, lizards, snails and so on.

We’ve been so inspired by the work these landowners have been doing, and by their enthusiasm and enjoyment of the native habitats they are creating, that we wanted to share their stories with you.

We’ve made a series of video interviews with three local landowners so you can see for yourself. They highlight the challenges and joys of land restorations as well as the difficulties, and the considerable commitment required.

We hope these videos will help tell the story of what we’re doing to look after Nelson’s freshwater, and the gains that can be made for our local native habitats and biodiversity along the way.