Skip to content

Incentives for Change

Register of Land Management Actions

What's been done? A national record of land management actions to improve water quality and restore catchments

LAWA mockup


Challenge funding: $1,750,000

Research duration: December 2018 – June 2022

What Are We Doing?

In Aotearoa we care for the health of our rivers, lakes and wetlands, which is why we adopt land management actions that help improve water quality.

However, some of our waterways are not in good shape. Over the last decade, we planted trees, fenced riverbanks and changed grazing and fertiliser management practices to improve the situation – but we are not consistently recording what has been done to enhance waterway health.

To find out which actions work best, we need to start recording land management actions and link them to water quality outcomes.

The Register of Land Management Actions will create a free online tool to record efforts to improve water quality within each rural catchment. The register will give people all over New Zealand greater awareness of the efforts underway to improve our fresh water, and a clearer picture of how far we have come.

Our goal is to give landowners confidence to invest in the most efficient actions, accelerating investment in catchment improvements.

How Can The Research Be Used?

  • The National Register of Actions will create a free online tool that complements the Land Air Water Aotearoa (LAWA) platform. You can view a mock-up of how this may look.
  • The project is structured to build on and combine existing recording initiatives by farmers, growers, iwi and hapū, primary sector bodies, community groups and councils, including actions implemented through farm environment plans.
  • The tool that is ultimately developed will improve our ability to link actions on land, with changes in water quality at monitoring sites. It will display information in a way that reflects the combined effort in a catchment, showing the extent and intensity of the actions. This will enable people in one catchment to make comparisons with other catchments, to see what has worked elsewhere and over what timeframe.
  • The register is not a compliance tool, and is being designed so it can’t be used in this way. The register is intended to record all actions taken to improve water quality, not just those driven by regulation.
  • The register will present information at a catchment scale, recognising the confidentiality and privacy of individual property owners. We will demonstrate in pilot catchments how the tool can be used to display actions at the catchment scale throughout New Zealand.
  • The research will link with other projects on transitioning to a more sustainable future, including research into catchment community and iwi groups, and sustainability marketing.

Want to share your story?

If you are part of an organisation or catchment group that has been restoring your catchment, and you want to see your collective efforts, please let us know. We will send occasional updates and an invitation to participate when the technology is ready.
Enter region or nearest town if catchment name unknown, or find your catchment here

In the Media

Roger Young, Register to record farmers efforts

Sarah’s Country, 21 February 2021

Roger Young from Cawthron Freshwater Sciences discusses a new online tool to record efforts to improve water quality.

Kati Doehring + Communicating Freshwater Science Better

FreshFM, 20 January 2021

"Let's up our game and try and measure the change our research makes."


Community Involvement

  • Farmers and growers are helping the research team understand what forms of data would be useful, how it may be presented, and what types of information should be included (and excluded, such as sensitive business and iwi/hapū data).
  • Māori stakeholders are helping researchers identify opportunities for the register to reflect their expectations as kaitiaki.
  • A steering group with representatives from NZ Landcare Trust, Dairy NZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, Waikato Regional Council, Taranaki Regional Council, Horizons Regional Council, Environment Canterbury, Our Land and Water, Fertilizer New Zealand, Department of Conservation, Ministry for the Environment, and the Ministry of Primary Industries has overseen the scoping of this project and will continue its oversight role.

Team Snapshot

Research Outputs


Demonstrating efficacy of rural land management actions to improve water quality - How can we quantify what actions have been done?

Katharina Doehring, Roger Young, Christina Robb
Journal of Environmental Management, September 2020

We reviewed 91 global publications and proceedings between 1989 and 2019 which assessed the complexities related to recording and reporting sustainable land use actions with a focus on freshwater ecosystems in rural areas in the developed world. We summarised these complexities (i.e., temporal and spatial lag-effects, confidentiality issues, lack of data robustness) and mined the literature about methodologies on how actions can be measured and how to address the challenges with doing this. Our review of literature identified numerous sources describing land management actions, but little information on standardised indicators of location, scale and intensity of the most common actions, making it difficult, if not impossible to determine the scale of actions within a catchment relative to a given water quality monitoring site. We recommend a suite of indicators of land management actions that could be standardised and widely used to improve water quality.

Mai te rangi ki te whenua, mai te whenua ki te rangi

Corey Ruha, Sylvia Tapuke, & Aneika Young
A kaupapa Māori literature review identifying land-based values and actions to benefit freshwater systems (July 2021)

This is a Kaupapa Māori literature review exploring at a high level, iwi and hapū values and actions on land that can benefit freshwater systems with a uniquely Māori perspective aimed at amplifying aspirations identified by tāngata whenua throughout Aotearoa. It is a complimentary article to support the Register of Land Management Actions alongside the literature review completed by Doehring, K., Young, R. G., & Robb, C. (2020).

Conference Presentations

What Do Rural Communities Have On Their Minds When Discussing Land Management Actions That Help Improve Water Quality?

Kati Doehring
NZFSS Conference, Invercargill, December 2020

Winner: People's Choice Award

Land Use Management Actions Record

Roger Young
Our Land and Water Symposium, August 2019


Have a Question?

We are happy to answer any questions about this research and how it can be used.

Please fill in the form below

Thank you for your enquiry. Your question may require information to be gathered from the research team, so please anticipate that it may take us up to 10 days to prepare a reply.

We appreciate your interest in our research.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Scroll To Top