Integrated Catchment Management

2003-2003 Overview and Progress

Integrated Management of Land & Water Resources in Complex Catchments: The Motueka River Initiative

Programme Leader: 

Andrew Fenemor (Landcare Research, Nelson) EmailSend email to FenemorA
PH: 03 545 7710


The Motueka Integrated Catchment Management research programme funded by the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science & Technology and contributions from Tasman District Council is now into its third year. The objective of the programme is to improve understanding of - and social learning about - land, freshwater, and near-coastal environments in catchments with multiple, interacting, and potentially conflicting land uses.


The Motueka-ICM research programme is organised around four major themes: land-use and water yield, riparian and freshwater ecosystems, coastal ecosystems, and human dimensions. Research projects in each theme are driven by key questions that have arisen through discussions with stakeholders.


In the 2002-03 year, the research programme is organised within five objectives:

1. Knowledge integration and delivery for integrated catchment management
The starting point for any ICM programme is a stocktake of existing knowledge. A database of existing knowledge has been created and summarised as a draft technical report on the Motueka catchment. The Motueka ICM website acts as both an interface between the ICM programme and the world, as well as the programme staff room.

2. Land use influences on catchment water balance
A catchment-wide water balance model has been developed to predict river flows at points in the catchment in response to changes in land cover and resource use. Understanding the various contributions to the hydrological cycle within the catchment will enable improved predictive capability of models such as this and the SWAT water quality model. Groundwater recharge mechanisms in the Moutere Gravel and aquifer characteristics in the Upper Motueka are being assessed with significant TDC collaboration.

3. Land-water-sediment interactions, impacts, and management
In 2002-03, a major project researching sediment generation, transport and delivery into the catchment's rivers and into Tasman Bay began. This project includes assessment of river gravel transport processes raised as an issue at last year's AGM by the TDC because of conflicts over river gravel extraction policy. A classification of riparian vegetation types throughout the catchment has been completed and is now being applied in greater detail as a riparian management tool in the Sherry River. The Sherry was the focus for our study of water qaulity impacts of dairy cows crossing the river, and the results led to a well-publicised effort by farmers to build bridges to replace these fords; an example of research leading through extension by TDC and others to a solution on the ground.

Work continues in this objective to collect and analyse water quality and aquatic habitat data from the Environmental Sampling Network developed with TDC. A case study in the Rainy River trialled a new 'quick, smart' minimum flows assessment method for small streams. Research on characteristics of appropriate riparian species continues, and iwi involvement in a water quality monitoring project is also in the planning phase.

4. Riverine effects on coastal-sea ecosystems
Water column sampling of nutrients, sediment and other environmental parameters continues in Tasman Bay within and beyond the Motueka River discharge plume. Together with hydrographic and benthic monitoring, this data is being applied to develop circulation and coastal productivity models for Tasman Bay, which can be used to identify environmental thresholds for aquaculture and shellfish management, especially those factors affected by river discharges. The Motueka delta intertidal area is one focus of this year's mapping efforts. Together with sediment tracking research, this work provides the coastal link with the sediment generation research to be carried out in Objective 3 above.

5. Social learning for integrated catchment management
Using a case study approach, the factors contributing to successful community involvement to address resource management problems are being identified, as examples of 'action research'. A second case study is researching the factors governing successful application of science and other information in making robust resource consent and policy development decisions at Tasman District Council - internal communication linkages and politics are certainly two factors which influence these outcomes.
The Motueka ICM Community Reference Group (CRG) acts as a sounding board for the research direction. The CRG has proven a vital link between the programme and local values as it developed through an Influence Matrix process a model of the ecosystem services factors affecting sustainable management of the catchment. The representativeness of their results is planned to be tested among sector group stakeholders. The ICM human dimensions research has also focussed effort on developing relationships with Motueka iwi and this is leading into planned collaborative work with iwi on specific research projects on water quality, cultural sites and matter of concern to Maori in the catchment.
An economic research strand is comparing the marginal value of water extracted for farm uses versus retained instream for fishery and other non-consumptive values.


The Motueka ICM programme aims to provide a framework within which ecosystem processes operating at large catchment scale can be better understood and modelled. It is only by understanding cause and effect linkages at this scale and in an integrated way, that well-informed assessment of cumulative effects of the full range of resource uses can be made. Specifically, we plan to provide new knowledge and tools (e.g.; BMPs, DSS's, models, knowledge bases) that resource managers, resource users, and communities all find useful.