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Land For Life

We are focusing on preserving and growing the long-term viability of food production in the Hawke’s Bay, and the communities that support them.

What is Land For Life?

We are looking to partner with private landowners, investors, and government agencies to identify marginal farmland and work to slow erosion, improve freshwater quality, and build farms resilient to climate change.

We are currently running a pilot trial on thirteen farms to understand the details in set-up costs, partnership and delivery options.  Some of their stories are below.

Under this trial, we offered a loan to landowners to plant trees on their erodible land. We looked to deliver a return to our farmer partners on this investment through manuka honey or timber production, and carbon credits.

We are currently working with significant private investors to develop this programme further.  If you are interested in finding out more, please email

Partnership with The Nature Conservancy

We are partnering with the global environmental organisation The Nature Conservancy on the Land For Life project.

TNC is evaluating a $50-$100 million scale-up opportunity to take Land For Life from a pilot phase to a programme that can be implemented across Hawke’s Bay.


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The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a global, science-based conservation organisation founded in 1951 and dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends.

Through its impact investment unit, NatureVest, TNC collaborates around the world to source and structure investment products that seek to generate both financial returns and conservation outcomes at scale. NatureVest was created in 2014 with founding sponsorship from JPMorgan Chase with the stated goal of sourcing and putting to work at least $1 billion of impact investment capital for measurable conservation outcomes over NatureVest’s first three years.

In New Zealand, one of TNC’s goals is to achieve measurable reductions in the intensity of freshwater use and in the contamination of priority catchments. The organisation has completed a high-level assesment of the Land For Life project and believes it could be structured to attract investment for a large-scale tree planting programme, alongside regenerative agricultural practices, to improve farm management and water quality outcomes.

TNC is undertaking due diligence on the opportunity, which if satisfactory, could enable the group to significantly scale-up and expand on the Land For Life concept using impact investing.

In order for the Council to achieve its strategic goal of all highly erodible land under tree cover by 2050, we need to plant trees at scale. TNC has significant international experience in structuring investment projects at scale with significant environmental benefits.

TNC brings considerable credibility, expertise and networks from similar environmental projects, and can introduce private and institutional investors to Land For Life who share a common interest in investing in sustainability and ecosystem protection.

Land For Life needs to integrate economics, environmental outcomes, supply chain constraints, landowner personal preferences and iwi and hapu values in the development of the programme — and TNC can help with this.

Yes. Investing in Land For Life is not exclusive to TNC and its investment networks. The aim is to develop an investment framework that delivers investment returns, environmental outcomes and landowners’ vision for their land.

The Council is investing $4.8 million over three years to fund planting and support pilots across the region. The partnership with TNC will allow the Council to leverage this investment by attracting external impact investment to implement a programme at scale.


TNC is evaluating a $50-100 million dollar scale-up opportunity with the programme being expanded out to 50-100 farms.


The region’s largest water quality issue is sediment from erosion of soils. One of our key strategic goals is that by 2050, all highly erodible land is under tree cover.

We support farmers to develop more resilient and sustainable farming operations, and have solid partnerships with the farming community. Our catchment advisors will introduce the Land For Life project to farmers, support them to take part in the project, and help in the development of a Land For Life project, by bringing in regenerative farming specialists and other experts.


TNC sources its funds from a range of commerical companies, funds and philanthropic investors, including investors in New Zealand.

About 252,000 hectares of Hawke’s Bay hill country has been identified as being at high risk of erosion and around 6.8 million tonnes of sediment enters our waterways every year, with a detrimental impact on freshwater and marine quality, and aquatic life.

The soil being lost from our hill country cannot be replaced, is the basis of hill country farming and is having a significant economic and environmental effect on farmers and the land.

No. The aim is to only plant trees on land which is erodible and suitable for trees. It is estimated about 5 - 20% of any farm will be planted in trees.  Options to improve the economic, social, and environmental outcomes from the unplanted areas of the farms will also be investigated as part of the due diligence that TNC are undertaking.

Land For Life is a way for farmers to get a good return from erosion prone land and potentially support a diversified farm system, keeping the farm in the family across generations. It can provide revenue to develop and improve the balance of the pastoral farm and support environmental stewardship. In turn, it will also help support the communities that support local farming. It is also an economically viable alternative to whole farm afforestation.

HBRC has debt funding available for initial farms but TNC is evaluating financing options for scaling up the proposition.

Through the initial pilot, we realised that the whole farm system needed to be considered, especially when some less-profitable land was being retired or put into forestry. Regenerative agriculture practices seemed to be the best way to accommodate these changes in land use, whilst improving resilience and profitability. Right Tree Right Place (RTRP) had also taken on a life of its own that did not always reflect the initial intent of the RTRP programme.

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Why would I farm using Land For Life?

Our Land For Life programme is a way for farmers to consider their whole farm system and apply regenerative agriculture practices to reduce erosion, improve freshwater and build greater farm resilience.

We are looking at land in Hawke’s Bay which is economically marginal for pastoral farming and is difficult to farm. This land has the potential to deliver much greater returns to farmers using regenerative farming practices.

Why are we doing this?

We need an innovative, transformational scheme to slow erosion, improve freshwater quality, and prepare the region for climate change.

Around 136,000 truck and trailer loads, or 1090 Olympic-sized swimming pools, of sediment fall into our waterways each year. This has significant impacts on water quality and the aquatic and terrestrial life that depends on it.

Working together through Land For Life will also improve environmental outcomes and support rural communities.

For Farmers

For Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand

A partnership using the Land For Life model offers farmers the choice to:

  • Maintain and enhance their pastoral farming system
  • Diversify and potentially increase income streams
  • Improve returns from marginal land
  • Support succession planning and debt reduction through higher incomes
  • Build a climate resilient farm with significant environmental benefits

If taken up at scale in the region, Land For Life will generate significant benefits for the region:

  • Reduce the need for whole farm afforestration, and support rural communities to thrive
  • Improve water quality through a reduction of sediment load and nutrient run off into waterways
  • Improve biodiversity, particularly through planting of native trees
  • Sequester carbon, helping to meet climate commitments

How would it work in practice?

Our catchment staff will work closely with farmers to identify the steep, erosion prone parts of their farm that will suit regenerative agriculture.

Catchment staff will then connect farmers with investment partners, and a plan would be agreed based on the farmer’s vision for the land.

The initial pilot funded any planting via debt, and then the planting created revenue via carbon, timber and/or honey.  The farmer repays the debt, and the remaining revenue goes to the farmer.

*This funding model is still available although the TNC is in the process of sounding out other financing options for expanding the project.

Want more information

Drop us a line if you would like any further information about Land For Life -

Case studies

Evan and Linda Potter have farmed their Elsthorpe property for 25 years retiring highly erodible and marginally-profitable land back to native bush, as well as planting pines, willow and poplars.    

Mark Warren talks about his journey from taking on the old run-down family farm in steep hill country in southern Hawke’s Bay to building it up to successful farm operation through planting the right trees in the right places.

Wairoa farmer Dave Read has planted thousands of poplars and willows on his land for erosion control and to provide alternative food for stock in times of drought.

Trees have been grown on Maraetara in Bay View by five generations of Philip Holt’s family. Philip talks about how planting the trees in marginal and erosion-prone land has benefited not just the farm business, but created a place of special significance for the family over the generations.

Case studies

Read more about farmers who are putting Land For Life in to practice.

Dave Read - Integrated landscape Sustainable future

Dave Read


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