Corporate roles in restoration of green infrastructure in dairy landscapes in New Zealand

Authors and Affiliations: 

Swaffield SR Lincoln University, New Zealand

McWilliam W Lincoln University, New Zealand

Corresponding author: 
Swaffield SR

Combining efficient food production with environmental stewardship requires both relevant science and effective governance (Henle et al 2008). New Zealand is a major supplier of food products to world markets, but faces significant challenges in managing the effects of intensive agricultural production upon rural environments, especially waterways (MfE, 2017; OECD, 2017). Functional green infrastructure is increasingly recognized as an essential part of sustainable pastoral dairy systems (Wilcock et al., 2009; Renouf & Harding, 2015), and New Zealand’s neo-liberal policy regime has emphasized farmer led voluntary approaches to protecting environmental values in areas undergoing intensification (Swaffield, 2014). However, implementation has been variable and cumulative outcomes uncertain (PCE, 2015). As a result, a wider range of mechanisms are being introduced.
Agri-business companies that purchase primary products from farmers, such as milk, as well as companies supplying essential resources such as water and fertilizer, are highly influential in farmer decision making, and may play a key role in supporting and guiding farmer initiatives. Using a variety of sources including farmer surveys, key informant interviews and published reports, the role of NZ agri-business companies in encouraging green infrastructure restoration by farmers is examined. Sector-wide initiatives such as the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord (DELG 2013); certification, for example ‘Lead with Pride’ (Synlait); company supply conditions, including Farm Environmental Plans (CPW 2017); and company funded financial support schemes, such as the Environmental Management Fund (Central Plains Water 2016) are analysed, and the relationship between public policy and regulation and private initiatives critiqued. A hybrid approach consisting of regulation, certification, funding support, collaboration and education offers potential to be effective in achieving sustainable outcomes, but currently lacks effective integration frameworks and tools at a landscape level.


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