IrrigationNZ is supportive of the latest report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) which highlights gaps in the data and information relating to the environment in New Zealand.
“It is well known we have patchy environmental data in New Zealand, but it is important to have this highlighted by an independent body like the PCE, which will hopefully trigger investment into beefing it up,” says Elizabeth Soal, chief executive of IrrigationNZ.
“Many individual irrigators, and the majority of the large schemes, have been following good management practice for a number of years, and it is endlessly frustrating not to have correct and up-to-date data to back this up,” says Ms Soal.
“These data, as the PCE says, will inform good decisions and policy making. It is encouraging that this report puts pressure on decision makers - across the political spectrum - to look at our environment holistically, to find a unified and clear goal for what we want to achieve across land and water, and develop cohesive metrics and mechanisms to measure progress toward this. It is positive to note support for passing of the Zero Carbon Bill in Parliament today - which shows the country can unite on environmental issues.
“At IrrigationNZ we have prioritised development of a robust database of information for our sector. We have recognised the gaps that exist so we are committed to working with central and local government to address this. Unless we do, the lag times between action and effect will become longer and therefore the consequences more difficult to address.
“IrrigationNZ is also working on a project, in conjunction with the Ministry for Primary Industries, Environment Canterbury, and the Otago Regional Council, to make better use of data collected by these various sources.
“Many irrigation schemes are also addressing gaps in data at the catchment level with their own comprehensive environmental monitoring processes and we are pulling this together.
“Farm Environment Plans and water metering being undertaken by irrigated farmers are also all rich sources of data - but unless there is a national framework that can pull together all the diverse sources from different sectors and regions, we will end up with a piecemeal patchwork of information.
“Recently reported information about carbon in soil relates to irrigation is a good example. Unless we have good information about the state of our soils and the carbon content of it, farmers won’t know what is best for protecting soil carbon levels, whilst simultaneously reducing methane outputs,” says Ms Soal
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