Landowners in the Horizons region are being urged to take advantage of funding to take action on erosion-prone land.

Horizons Regional Council is calling for more sign-ups to its Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) after changes to eligibility criteria have produced more options for landowners to take advantage.

The council's 2019 State of Environment report found that the region has around 260,000ha of highly erodable land in pasture and a further 200,000ha protected from erosion by vegetated cover.

The SLUI programme is the country's largest hill country erosion programme and represents $79 million of investment in the region by central government, ratepayers and landowners.

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In the past year, the programme has resulted in 570 erosion control jobs being completed in the region, with landowners undertaking over 3600ha of erosion control work, including planting 2.3 million trees and establishing 156km of fencing.

Horizons catchment operations committee chair David Cotton said the funding could contribute towards these activities as well as sediment traps, reversion of land in pasture to native cover and retiring of existing bush remnants.

"SLUI is definitely a great mechanism to assist with works on farm to help landowners move towards evolving regulation."

He said the eligibility changes were timely with the government looking at new policies around land use and freshwater management.

Horizons group manager natural resources and partnerships Dr Jon Roygard said that while there are already a number of farms and landowners in the SLUI programme, the changes mean one-off funding can now be offered on properties that are not already part of it.

There will also be further funding available for properties with existing SLUI and Whanganui Catchment Strategy whole farm plans, he said.

"These new funding avenues will make it a lot easier for landowners to be part of the SLUI programme," he said.

"SLUI builds farm resilience to storms and helps improve water quality by keeping sediment out of streams and rivers. The programme has been very successful over the 12 years it has been underway, establishing over 740 whole farm plans across an area of 552,000ha and completing 36,000ha of erosion control work."

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Roygard said Horizons has secured $6.4 million for the next four years from the Ministry for Primary Industries' hill country erosion fund.

He said the programme would be seeking to deliver 90,000ha of new whole farm plans and 13,665ha of erosion control work over the next four years.

For further information on the scheme and funding criteria, landowners can visit www.horizons.govt.nz or freephone 0508 800 800.