Farmers wanting to improve environmental outcomes on their farms have a range of funding available. Keri Johnston reports.

Our North Island team here at Irricon have had the pleasure of working with some very forward-thinking farmers who are taking advantage of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Erosion Control Funding Programme for Community Projects (ECFP) in the Motu River Catchment.

With the help of an ecologist, a fieldday was held for 13 farming families in the catchment project looking at water quality, assessing the living biodiversity, and providing training in habitat monitoring to gauge the health of the Motu River.

The funding has also enabled erosion control plans to be prepared for the farms as well as carrying out planting and fencing of riparian areas for properties included in the project.

This got me thinking about the different kinds of funding options available for farmers who want to improve the environmental outcomes on their farms but need help to fund the work.

A number of different organisations provide funding for environmental projects, and it can just be a matter of knowing where to look, or who to ask to get started and find the right funding for your project.

Funding is still available under the MPI ECFP. The ECFP is aimed at initiatives on a community scale that lead to improved erosion control outcomes in the longer term.

Funding is now also available through the MPI One Billion Trees Programme. The Government has set a goal to plant a billion trees in the next 10 years.

Land owners can plant native or exotic trees or to retire land and allow it to regenerate. The One Billion Trees Programme also includes a Partnership Grant. Any individual, non-government organisation, Maori organisation, company, charity, research organisation, or council can apply for the grant.

There is a long list of priority areas for this funding, but this includes enhancing environmental sustainability, reducing erosion and improving water quality – perfect for a catchment project. More information on the ECFP funding and the One Billion Trees Programme is available on the MPI website.

Project Crimson has a funding scheme called Trees That Count, which is a national initiative to mobilise New Zealanders to plant millions of native trees to mitigate climate change. Organisations and individuals can make a donation to Project Crimson and this is used to fund planting projects.

Many district and regional councils also have funding available. For example, the Gisborne District Council has $30,000 a year available to pay for 50% of the costs of one or more projects under their Natural Heritage Fund.

Environment Canterbury has over a million dollars available each year for protection and restoration of biodiversity on private and public land. This is called the Immediate Steps fund.

All these funding programmes have a different set of terms and conditions and the key is finding the right one for your project and getting an application together. To help prepare your application, contact these organisations directly, or get in touch with local consultants who are in the know about the different funding options available.

  • Keri Johnston is a natural resources engineer with Irricon Resource Solutions.