Environmental leadership in land management

Land management category winners in the 2021 Taranaki Regional Council Environmental Awards.

Category sponsor: Corteva(external link)

Neil Phillips - for a significant contribution to the protection and enhancement of precious native habitats in Taranaki and enlisting landowner support for these efforts.

Thousands of hectares of native bush and other valuable habitat in Taranaki is protected forever thanks in large part to the efforts of Neil Phillips, who’s retiring as the region’s QEII National Trust’s representative. In his 22 years, the number of covenanted sites increased from 82 to 470 and the area under covenant increased by more than 9,700 hectares. On his watch, Taranaki had the most new covenants every year. As a farmer himself, Neil quickly established a positive rapport with landowners. He also developed effective networks among allied agencies, including TRC, to maximise support for covenant holders. Neil has also been actively involved with local conservation groups including the Taranaki Tree Trust, Wild for Taranaki and East Taranaki Environment Collective (formerly Experience Purangi).

Holmleigh Trust Partnership - Peter and Nicola Carver - for environmental stewardship, sustainable land management and native habitat protection.

Peter and Nicola Carver have shown how well they understand the land, making significant gains for the environment while successfully running a three-farm hillcountry and dairy operation east of Hāwera. With TRC advice and assistance from the STRESS erosion scheme, the Carvers have planted exotic forestry and retired native bush on 47 hectares of highly erodible land. They’ve completed more than 3 kilometres of fencing, with another 3 under way. They’re stabilising slopes with poplar and willow poles they’re growing themselves. They’re also fencing and planting waterways on their dairy property. And the Carvers are retiring, covenanting, fencing and protecting 97 hectares of mature native forest with assistance from STDC, QEII Trust and the TRC’s Key Native Ecosystem programme.

Bruce and Christine Maechler - for environmental stewardship and improving ecosystem health through riparian fencing and planting.

Streams and even drains have been protected with fences and more than 3000 plants on Bruce and Christine Maechler’s 49-hectare organic drystock farm at Rāhotu. Nearly five and a half kilometres of watercourse banks have riparian protection, which keeps stock out of waterways, reduces runoff and encourages native biodiversity. Bruce and Christine are proud that one of their protected streams now has a full canopy after planting started 14 years ago. And they’re delighted to see native species self-seeding. The couple are enthusiastic about environmental protection. They say the organic approach brings many benefits including better soil quality and plant growth, healthier stock and increased bird and insect life. They’ve started regenerative pasture management and are keen to see what it brings.

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