April 2006; ME 735
Many factors affect water quality and aquatic life in waterways, such as weather, soil type, and other land uses. This makes it difficult to find out how the environment benefits from the actions taken under the Accord. Another difficulty is the timescale over which improvements might be seen.
To date, the environmental impacts of implementing Accord targets have not been measured.
In the process of developing a Dairying and Clean Streams Accord monitoring and reporting strategy, many issues were considered. A strategy was recommended that assesses the environmental benefits of the Accord.
The strategy is a mixture of existing, modified, and new monitoring across the country.
All available monitoring information was assessed during the writing of the strategy. As far as possible, existing monitoring programmes (such as the Dairying Best-Practice Catchment Studies and regional council State of the Environment monitoring programmes) were used or built upon to provide the best possible indication of Accord benefits for waterways.
The strategy recommends a suite of monitoring including:
This ‘three-pronged’ approach is designed to obtain the best possible picture of the benefits of the work farmers and Accord partners are doing to meet Accord targets and objectives.
The Ministry for the Environment is working closely with regional councils to develop and monitor the ‘tier two’ catchments. Regional councils will start to monitor in these catchments in mid 2006.
A report prepared under the monitoring and reporting strategy and giving the current state of waterways, will be published by the Ministry in 2007.
The strategy also contains a number of recommendations which have not been directly actioned. Rather, these recommendations have been fed into other areas of the Accord, like Fonterra’s annual On-Farm Environment and Animal Welfare Assessment Survey, in order to improve the information gathered.