Water quality, stream health and biodiversity are hot topics these days.

In some regions strongly opposing viewpoints between the rural sector and others, including 'townies' and recreational users, has provoked antagonism and over-reaction, says Wild About NZ's monitoring coordinator Andrew Jenks.

"Finding common goals and aspirations seems to be a more common process in our Katikati community, and there has been nothing but positive support amongst rural landowners for Uretara Estuary Managers (UEM) catchment restoration plans."

UEM, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council have signed up three properties for substantial environmental projects beside Te Mania, Tahawai and Boyd streams, and another three are already on the drawing board.

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"The plans are more comprehensive than usual due to an additional funding contribution from Ministry for the Environment's Freshwater Improvement Fund. Improving water quality, biodiversity and habitat from the Kaimai Forest Park down to the estuary in four large catchments is taking a great deal of planning time, including farm walks and assessment of the current state of the environment," he said.

"One useful and accurate measure of land use is stream water quality monitoring and the first baseline catchment surveys were started last Monday through a real community effort involving landowners, students and staff from Katikati College, using equipment provided through Western Bay of Plenty District Council's Community Matching Fund.

"Over time the monitoring network will be extended and expanded to include bird counts, pest animal and invasive weed surveys, freshwater fish monitoring and water quality tests during higher stream flows."

Anyone interested in participating can contact Lawrie Donald UEM chairman on 021 859929 or Andrew Jenks, on 027 4585286.

"We can provide equipment, record sheets as well as training and ongoing support to volunteers. The surveys are not complicated and don't take a great deal of time, and you do get to meet many more of our 'wild' neighbours. It really is interesting and fun," they said.