Waikato Regional Council (WRC) is a local government body. The Waikato region covers 25,000km2 – from the Bombay Hills in the north to Mt Ruapehu in the south, and from Mokau on the west coast to the Coromandel Peninsula on the east coast. It also includes 10,000 km2 of coastal marine area. The region is home to about half a million people.
WRC is one of 11 regional councils throughout New Zealand. A regional council is responsible for:
- managing the effects of activities on freshwater and coastal water resources, land and air
- managing rivers, mitigating soil erosion and flood control
- developing regional policy statements and issuing consents
- regional land transport planning
- emergency management and civil defence preparation
- harbour navigation and safety and marine pollution.
The Waikato region has several important natural features including the country’s longest river – the Waikato River – and its largest lake – Lake Taupō. The region also has New Zealand’s most important geothermal systems and internationally significant wetlands.
The Waikato region has some of the country’s most productive soils. The northern area is primarily used for vegetable production, with dairy farms occupying a large portion of the region. There are also more than 300,000 ha of plantation forests.
Nature of science
The Waikato Regional Council Science and Strategy directorate gathers, analyses, interprets and translates information on Waikato’s natural resources, community and economy in order to achieve positive regional outcomes. The provision of science-based evidence is required for WRC to ensure quality environmental management.
Waikato Regional Council has a strong focus on the environment. It has three directorates that oversee environmental management.
The Integrated Catchment Management directorate is responsible for land management, biosecurity and biodiversity, river and flood management and natural hazard management. The land management component aims to reduce the environmental footprint associated with agriculture.
The Resource Use directorate manages consent and compliance responsibilities. The team makes decisions on resource consent applications associated with water allocation, land development and more.
The Science and Strategy directorate gathers and interprets information on the region’s natural resources, communities and the economy. The science teams are responsible for monitoring, reporting and communicating environmental information.
Environmental education is a key activity for WRC. The council provides information and outreach services for farmers, growers, businesses and industries. It works with landcare and coastcare groups, iwi and other community groups to take action on local environmental issues.
WRC actively supports schools with environmental education. It has developed classroom resources such as Rivers and Us, Streamsense and Coasts and Us. The council co-ordinates the Enviroschools programme – an initiative in which early childhood centres and schools commit to long-term sustainability practices. It provides staff and funding to assist with special projects.
This article has been developed in partnership with the Waikato Regional Council as part of the Rivers and Us resource.