Catchment-level action

This page outlines work to develop nationally-consistent information on at-risk catchments. The information will help improve the health of fresh water in these catchments.  

About the at-risk catchments project

New Zealand has an estimated 10132 catchments and every one has different land use and natural conditions.

Across the Essential Freshwater programme, we are working both top-down (from a national level) and bottom-up (from catchment level).

We recognise that virtually every catchment in New Zealand is at risk from human activity, in one way or another. 

The at-risk catchments project is one part of the Essential Freshwater work programme and aims to deliver:

  • National level information to enable targeting of regulation, investment and potentially other interventions as envisaged by the Land and Water Forum.
  • Exemplar’ catchments where we would work with agency partners (Department of Conservation and Ministry of Primary Industries), regional councils, iwi/hapū and communities to model ways of collaborating to improve freshwater health across a range of issues and a variety of actions. These exemplars will also provide us with information about gaps that could be filled by either regulatory or non-regulatory interventions. 

What is a catchment?

A catchment is an area of land where water collects when it rains.  As the water flows over the landscape it finds its way into streams and down into the soil, eventually feeding the rivers, lakes and wetlands. Some of this water infiltrates through the ground to aquifers (groundwater). Every inch of land on the Earth forms part of a catchment. New Zealand has an estimated 4200 catchments, large and small, and each has different conditions which impact on water quality.

Find out more

NZ Landcare Trust catchment management approach [NZ Landcare Trust website]