It was great to present at this year's Farmed Landscapes Research Centre conference at Massey University in February to update the delegates on a great new project that we are developing alongside the Ministry for the Environment (MfE), Regional Councils, and the New Zealand Association of Resource Management (NZARM), known as, "The Capability and Capacity Builder for Resource Management".
Element Environmental has gained the opportunity to support and project manage a three-year project in partnership with MfE, Regional Councils, and NZARM. The central focus is on working collaboratively with stakeholders to deliver on capacity building within the resource management sector to help landowners meet New Zealand's freshwater challenges.
Regional councils emphasised the need to increase capacity and capability in the resource management sector, with a clear consensus surrounding similar drivers affecting regional councils' ability to improve capacity and capability. Increased staff turnover in the public sector, the loss of institutional knowledge, and increased demand for resources in the environmental industry are all putting pressure on meeting the capacity and capability demands across regional councils. This results in a need for a greater understanding of the number of advisors, their capabilities, and their work locations to assist landowners and regional councils.
The presentation at FLRC introduced the project, helping to provide a high-level background on the project and increase overall awareness. In more detail, this project focuses on better understanding current capability in the resource management sector to support the requirements for implementing freshwater farm plans (FW-FP) and for building capability across the wider environmental, social and cultural areas of natural resource management. Once understood, it will develop and implement processes, structures, training and support, enabling the continual development of national capacity in the sector.
Feedback from the audience suggested that it was a welcomed initiative in an era of constant change for landowners who will need support navigating new compliance requirements.
The project will encourage the development of a competent and skilled workforce; additionally, the availability of the programme will inform regional councils and landowners seeking to facilitate a variety of on-farm environmental support tasks, which will allow individuals' capacity and capability to be matched or developed to meet future capacity and capability needs.
With the proposed success of the programme, current and future resource management professionals will be able to benefit from the self-sufficient project by the end of the three years by;
Gaining a clear understanding of the current capability of individuals within regions.
Understanding each region's capability and capacity needs through working with regional councils, community groups and Iwi organisations.
Providing targeted, context-based training and qualifications to build capability to match the regional needs and support career development.
Providing a nationally supported register of capability that allows councils, catchment groups and farmers to connect to the right expertise.
With the involvement of regional councils, industry and NZARM, the hope is this programme will leave a legacy of training resources, formal qualification pathways, digital tools, and capable trainers and be self-sufficient for future resource management professionals.
Please keep an eye out for the release of NZARM's new website, which will hold the register and supporting resources for users to develop their skill sets.