Light shed on land, water importance

Otago Regional Council (ORC) says two new reports shed light on the importance of land and water to Otago’s economy and primary sectors.

‘‘[They] represent considerable investment in understanding rural businesses in relation to freshwater management, [providing] new understanding for the proposed Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP),’’ ORC senior economist Dr Ann Yang said.

The Otago’s Rural Businesses and Environmental Actions for Freshwater report tests the impacts of possible environment actions for primary industries.

The report describes a ‘‘highly connected’’ Otago economy, identifying links between food growing and processing industries, highlighting land and water used by the primary sector — more than 2 million hectares or about 70% of the region’s land area.

Most of Otago’s export earnings come from rural land production (48%) and tourism (19%).

ORC is required to implement national legislation and regulation for freshwater management, environmental standards and farm planning frameworks.

These are being included within ORC’s proposed LWRP, to be notified by June next year.