Stabilising hill country

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With winter fast approaching, Taranaki hill country farmers need to remember the importance of soil stabilisation measures like poplar poles, and take action accordingly.

"Now's the time to order poplar or willow poles, before winter sets in," says Don Shearman, Land Services Manager for the Taranaki Regional Council, which assists with the cost of poles through its South Taranaki and Regional Erosion Support Scheme (STRESS).

"The storm and flood event in June last year was a graphic demonstration of just how vulnerable the eastern hill country can be to devastating landslips. Not only did they cause extensive damage to pasture and infrastructure, but they filled waterways with sediment and made the flooding worse," he says.

"People's memories can fade as time rolls by and new growth covers the scars and tension cracks on the hillsides. But it's important to take action to stabilise the land before the event. Soil stabilisation measures like poplar poles need a good eight to 10 years to be effective - and we can expect storms like last June's to occur more regularly."

STRESS, the Council's erosion programme, has been running for five years. And with another $1.2 million recently approved by the Ministry of Primary Industries, it will continue for another four.

The scheme also has grants for forestry establishment, fencing off retired land and land use change.

Financial assistance is available for forestry establishment, forestry fencing, manuka reversion, poplar or willow poles to reduce erosion and retirement fencing for steeper areas.

For more information, or to order poles, call the Council on 0800 736 222 or email.

- Stratford Press

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