Research article Future-proofing erosion-prone hill country against soil degradation and loss during large storm events: have past lessons been heeded?
The two damaging storms that struck the Manawatu and Bay of Plenty regions in 2004 serve to remind us of the occurrence of similarly damaging events in 1988 (East Coast) and 1977 (Wairarapa), both of which had severe and long-term economic and societal consequences. The most significant physical impacts common to storm events of this magnitude (approximate 100-year return interval) are the on-site damage caused by erosion, in particular soil loss from pastoral hill country, and the resultant off-site impact of sediment on downstream infrastructure. Research has shown that a closed-canopy forest cover is effective in reducing the on-site risk of erosion during these large-magnitude events. This article presents examples where reforestation of previously eroded pastoral land has successfully mollified those factors that contribute to risk of landsliding, gully erosion and earthflow movement and poses the question: why have we not future-proofed more of our hill country against inevitable soil degradation and soil loss in future storms?
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