Synthesis Scenarios for Future Land Use

Steering land use change to meet water quality targets, through the synthesis of Our Land and Water research

Tukituki River and Te Mata Peak. Photo: Phillip Capper via Flickr

Project Details Ngā taipitopito

Project Status:
Challenge funding:
Research duration:
April 2023 – February 2024

Collaborators Ngā haumi

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research | Perrin Ag

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What are we doing?E aha ana mātou?

Land stewards need evidence to support suggestions that changing their farming system will lead to improvements in local waterways that are in proportion to their investment in land-use change.

This project is undertaking scenario modelling to show how a water quality target can be met in three catchments by changing land use. These scenarios will not compromise profitability, increase greenhouse gas emissions, or result in other environmental impacts.

The three catchments are Waihao (Otago), Tukituki (Hawke’s Bay) and Wye Valley (Marlborough). These catchments have community-defined water quality objectives that are unlikely to be achieved through reasonable mitigation efforts alone. Water quality in these catchments is responding directly to current agricultural land use, and this is the dominant cause of poor water quality.

The scenarios will draw on research previously funded by Our Land and Water to identify land use opportunities and use catchment and attenuation modelling to assess achievable improvements in water.

How can the research be used? Ka pēhea e whai take ai te rangahau?

  • This research aims to demonstrate that the mission of Our Land and Water – to improve water quality and maintain primary production – can be achieved through a synthesis of the type of research that Our Land and Water has supported.
  • Researchers will create a method showing how to use existing tools and research to create useful future land-use scenarios in many catchments across New Zealand.
  • The three case study catchments will gain an understanding of where mitigation can meet their water quality objectives, and where a land-use change decision will be required. The research team will develop business cases for potential land uses and their financial implications. A viable mosaic of land use within each catchment will be produced, with an assessment of the effects on water quality and greenhouse gas emissions of this new land-use scenario.

Participation & engagement Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

  • Up to 50 farmers in each catchment have been contacted for information and are involved in the research.
  • In the Tukituki catchment, Hawkes Bay Regional Council and electorate MPs have been consulted.
  • In Wye Valley, Marlborough District Council have been engaged. Research to define a Shared Vision for Land Use in Marlborough, led by the Bragato Research Institute, is informing this case study.
  • In Waihao catchment, eCan and Te Runganga o Waihao (Ngai Tahu) are involved.


Research team Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

Project Manager / Science Co-Lead
Lee Matheson
Perrin Ag
Science Co-Lead
Alexander Herzig
Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research
Clémence Vannier
Manaaki Whenua (previously University of Canterbury)
Dan Richards
Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research
Carla Muller
Perrin Ag
Rob Brazendale
Perrin Ag
Duncan Walker
Perrin Ag
Rachel Durie
Perrin Ag
Alastair MacCormick
Perrin Ag
Daniel Payton
Perrin Ag
Laura McQuillan-Reese
Perrin Ag

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