Register of Land Management Actions

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

Project Details Ngā taipitopito

Project Status:
Challenge funding:
Research duration:
December 2018 – June 2022

Collaborators Ngā haumi

Cawthron Institute | DairyNZ | Happen Consulting | Land Air Water Aotearoa | Massey University | Scion | Te Arawa Lakes Trust | Te Arawa River Iwi Trust | University Of Otago | Wakatū Incorporation

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What are we doing?E aha ana mātou?

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? Ka pēhea e whai take ai te rangahau?

  • 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.

Participation & engagement Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

  • 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.

Research team Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

Research Lead
Roger Young
Cawthron Institute
Science Delivery Lead
Kati Doehring
Cawthron Institute
Project Manager/Implementation Lead
Christina Robb
Happen Consulting
Te Ao Māori Lead
Marie McCarthy
Jonothan Alsop
IT Effect

Tools & resources Ngā utauta me ngā rauemi


Actions to Include in a Farm Environment Plan

This interactive infographic is a compilation of actions to decrease the loss of contaminants from agricultural land. Mitigation actions can be filtered by any of…
View Guidance

Mai te Rangi ki te Whenua, Mai te Whenua ki te Rangi

This literature review identifies 5 actions that support the wellbeing of land, water, and indigenous people from a uniquely Māori perspective. The actions are aimed…
View Guidance

Connecting communities for effective farm plans – webinar

Land use intensification and the degradation of water quality was enabled by a system that considered all farms separately, despite their cumulative effects on water…
View Video

What the data tells us about our water

By bringing together multiple data sources, we can now see which catchments are under the most pressure, and whether applying all known and emerging on-farm…
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Journal Article

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

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…
View Journal Article

In the media Mai i te ao pāpaho

Sarah’s Country, 21 February 2021
Roger Young from Cawthron Freshwater Sciences discusses a new online tool to record efforts to improve water quality.
FreshFM, 20 January 2021
"Let's up our game and try and measure the change our research makes."

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