Published by the Taranaki Regional Council, the report looked at trends from 20 years of monitoring and showed most measures were improving or not changing significantly for the ecological health and physical and chemical state of 99% of Taranaki rivers and streams.
TRC director of environment quality, Gary Bedford, said the report's findings were exciting and validated community efforts to improve water quality. "We're excited about the latest assessments of in-stream life – these are the little insects living in water - the primary indicator of water quality, these are the best ever results since we began measuring," he said.Bedford attributed the changing course of Taranaki water health trends to the work of farmers and landowners, as part of TRC's riparian planting and rural fencing scheme.
- 38 out of 55 were in the A category rating
- 15 out of 55 were in the B category rating
- 1 ourtof 55 were in the C category rating
- Only one was below the national bottom line for acceptable water quality, with a D rating.
However, a new study from has found that rural and farm fencing is only the start when it comes to improving New Zealand waterways.
Freshwater scientists at the Cawthron Institute found that Holistic and sustainable land management are needed in order to restore waterways.
"There is no simple solution to restoring a healthy river ecosystem," said lead author Katharina Doehring. "rural fencing is just one component. Stock can't get into the river and can't deposit faeces in fenced sections of the river" . Farm fencing and rural fencing reduces E coli and sediment inputs in the water. Short sections or Rivers and streams that have been fenced don't then repair themselves. The only indicator that improved in this study was shade, brought about by planting along stream edges. As they mature, bushes and trees shade the water and can lower its temperature, a desirable result. The bigger picture is that streams and rivers are connected ecosystems and restoration needs to happen across whole catchments.
"Our waterways need to be managed at a catchment or large scale because small scale efforts have little effect on stream ecosystem health," Doehring said. "Ideally the landowners in a catchment work together and develop … a coordinated environmental management plan for that catchment'
Unfortunately there isn't a single answer and it depends on what landowners can afford however Dohering is urging land owners to continue fending and planting as they are important first steps.