The McRae Trust Sustainable Land Management Project: A community-based approach to sustainable hill country farming


  • Peter Manson



An East Coast hill country extension project has been running successfully for 5 years. A community group meets regularly to discuss farm development and farming policies, which may conclude with the manager adopting recommendations. The group includes people from agribusiness who freely give time and technical advice. Funding for extension activities only was available for the first 3 years. The project aims to improve farm production, while attending to environmental issues and to impart the knowledge gained to the wider community. An annual field day is held for the farming community. Significant gains have been made in production levels and soil conservation and other environmental work. It is also considered that the project has been effective in its extension role, although this is difficult to measure. Success of the project to date can be related to the continuing challenges that arise for the group and the property, which is typical of the wider Wairoa area, and the interesting group meetings and field days which draw good numbers of people. Assigning project members to task groups, designed to address specific issues, could give new impetus. Issues, which could be addressed, include the economic options for steeper country and the human factors of farming. The model is repeatable in other areas. Keywords: extension, forestry, hill country, soil conservation, sustainability