WAI (Water Action Initiative) Wanaka has gained $3M in funding from Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to employ Wānaka folk in the Jobs for Nature (JFN) programme over the next three years.
The funding will allow Wai Wānaka to employ up to 30 people in full-time and part-time roles for months at a time on a variety of environmental projects on farms.
WAI recruited about 14 people in part and full-time roles for its first eight weeks "Partnering to Plant" project which established and maintained thousands of natives in the Gladstone track area.
Part of the reason we got the funding was that we had already brought together five catchment groups in the Upper Clutha and all of these were doing their own environmental actions, WAI Wānaka manager Julie Perry said
"So we were able to say to MPI that there was that tremendous willingness to support environmental work amongst the landowners.
"As an example, before we got the MPI funding, we had some through the Sustainable Business Networks to employ eight people for eight weeks for the Partnering to Plant project.
"One of the properties we planted on, the owners said they had an eight-year plan to fence and plant an area. By getting our teams there for a day and a half to work on that property shaved three years off his eight-year plan."
The landowners sign an agreement to maintain the areas planted, Perry said. There is a commitment that's evolved through benefitting from the previous Jobs for Nature teams.
Eighty per cent of the $3m will be spent on employing people; 20 per cent on direct costs and overheads. Landowners pay for plants and fencing, rabbit poisoning, watering etc.
At the moment we are doing detailed planning said Perry. "We don't want to give all the money to the rich farmers- we need to work with farmers to understand their budgets and what they can support."
Detailed planning was expected to be completed by March next year she said when even more workers would be needed for phase three, which would continue until July 2022.
Other workers will be needed to help link the Jobs for Nature projects with work already happening across the Upper Clutha catchment, and to work with landowners.
The Jobs for Nature initiative was announced last May aimed at providing funding for 11,000 jobs to support various environmental projects.
Read edition 1002 of the Wānaka Sun here.