TRC Riparian Management Programme

NSG NZ enjoys a long-term relationship with Taranaki Regional Council (TRC) stretching back over many years.  NSG NZ was retained to advise and action the strategy for GIS implementation at the Council. The project involved the implementation of an integrated, corporate wide GIS for the Council. This included the coordination for supply of hardware, software, data and customised software applications to meet priority business requirements, as well as the provision of associated training.

A key component of this implementation was the establishment of a custom Intranet GIS called Taradise and related applications. The project was huge, as the wealth of technical and scientific information amassed by the Council in its databases had to be transformed into concise and easily understood spatial and graphic form. Taradise has grown into a cost effective tool that has made Council business more efficient. It has proved to be one of the most successful projects ever implemented by the Council.

To quote senior management at Taranaki Regional Council in regard to NSG NZ projects at the Council;

“Technology and GIS in particular gives the council the greatest opportunity to improve customer service and efficiencies over the next five to ten years”
 

Basil Chamberlain, Chief Executive

“Development and implementation of GIS at the Council, within twelve months and within budgetary constraints has been a wonderful achievement”
 

Mike Nield, Director Corporate Services

NSG NZ implemented a project for the Council to support Riparian Planning for Freshwater and Land Management at the Council. The Taranaki region is a major producer of dairy products and, as such, makes a major contribution to the New Zealand economy. An inevitable consequence of dairying is diffuse (widespread) source discharges to waterways and the need to avoid, remedy and mitigate impacts on water quality.

Pre-GIS the production of maps and plans was a slow and labour intensive process. Less than 200 plans had been produced in four years. There was also no way of monitoring the implementation of plans, the actual amount of Council supported tree planting and therefore the financial management of this programme.  There was a clear business need to automate the process to cover all 1,800 farms in an acceptable timeframe.

Taranaki Regional Council’s riparian management programme is a voluntary (non-regulatory) programme whereby the Council promotes and supports landowner efforts to plant and fence waterways traversing the ring plain. This voluntary programme represents a significant investment by the Council and the farming community. It is arguably the largest community-planting scheme in the country and is transforming the Taranaki landscape.

The Riparian Management Programme, which began in 1993, is based upon the preparation of property specific riparian plans, the supply of low cost riparian plants and the provision of other on-going advice and assistance. Council prepares riparian plans to assist the implementation of riparian management. The plans are prepared following a property inspection and close consultation with the landowner.

A riparian plan sets out property-specific recommendations for what should be fenced and/or planted. The plan lists recommended plant species and the estimated costs of fencing, planting and weed spraying. The plan includes an aerial map with GIS layers highlighting plan recommendations and a series of planning and budget tables. The tables outline a schedule for the timing of works, calculation of costs for different implementation stages, and a list of suitable plant species available through the Council’s riparian plant scheme.

A GIS application was developed to automate the process of producing riparian plans and then monitoring the implementation and achievement of riparian management.

The GIS application developed by NSG NZ to deliver the riparian plans and to monitor and report on the implementation of those plans, has been implemented using technology from Esri.

img src=”http://www.northsouthgis.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/riparian_plan.png” alt=”An example of a new GIS produced Riparian Plan” width=”456″ height=”384″ />
Figure: An example of a new GIS produced Riparian Plan

The riparian plan production and reporting has been consolidated with a comprehensive farm land management application to produce a complete solution for farm management. This application is delivered as an ArcGIS (ArcView) ArcMap extension incorporating a “Land Management Application” (LMA) GIS toolbar and LMA GIS menu items.

The application has been designed to run on both file geo-databases as well as the corporate, enterprise, ArcSDE implementation. Base data in support of the application is derived from New Zealand’s Core Record System cadastral framework, supported by region wide digital ortho-photography and digital land use databases.

The resulting status of farm plan production is available as a layer in the corporate Intranet GIS application for executive management reporting and strategic planning.

Between 1995 and 2001, the Council had prepared just 279 plans.  In the period from 2001 to 2010, since the new GIS based applications have been in place, 1,955 plans have been created. Since the farm management and riparian plan production is now largely complete the focus is now very much on the implementation and monitoring mode. Water quality is improving and, generally speaking, water quality is stable or improving on all significant watercourses in the region. This is despite the continuing intensification of the dairy industry.

The preparation of Riparian farm plans would not be possible without the utilisation of GIS technology. The use of GIS to deliver, not only the initial plan, but in particular the operational monitoring reports that detail the progress and achievement of riparian planting, These reports are also used to manage and justify on-going financial farming development and such support by the Council.

An international panel of judges, at the 2011 Geospatial World Forum, rated TRC’s Riparian Management Programme as the world’s best in land and resources management.

Mike Nield, Director of Corporate Services TRC, was presented the ‘Geospatial World Forum 2011: Excellence Award for Land and Resources Management’ at an awards ceremony on the 18th January in Hyderabad, India. The function was attended by high profile politicians, diplomats, academicians and professionals from around the world.

The Riparian Management Programme was judged the best, out of a field of 178 nominations, for its success in transforming the Taranaki riparian landscape, reversing decades of riparian clearance and improving water quality on a regional scale.