North Otago Sustainable Land Management Group: Assisting the North Otago community to move towards the goal of sustainable land use


  • G. Ludemann
  • D.C. Hewson
  • R. Green



The North Otago area has a climate that often fluctuates from severe drought to flood in a short space of time. The climatic extremes, and some unsustainable land use practices can put the area's fragile loessial soils at risk of water and wind erosion. This paper outlines an approach used in North Otago which has enabled the community to identify its sustainability and environmental issues and begin to make changes to land use and farmer attitudes. A group of key farmers was brought together to oversee the preparation of Sustainable Land Management Guidelines for the downlands. (This group became the North Otago Sustainable Land Management Group - NOSLaM Group.) From this grew a wide-ranging community-driven project with a full-time co-ordinator, and a vision to have most land users adopting sustainable farming systems. This should ensure the area is ready to meet the world market demands for environmental quality in food and fibre production. The Group will promote individual environmental farm plans which will have a monitoring component. Some farmers will work towards some form of property accreditation such as ISO 14001. This pilot project will be highlighting the economic benefits of environmentally sound farming methods, through seminars, field-days, newsletters and a demonstration farm. The Group is working in partnership with farmers, the processing industry and marketing people to identify market opportunities for the area's food and fibre produced by environmentally friendly farming systems. Keywords: cultivation, environment, Environmental Farm Plans, erosion, guidelines, ISO 14001 accreditation, market opportunities, monitoring, sustainable land use, sustainability