A group representing New Zealand fruit and vegetable growers says a new report on urban expansion shows that urgent action is required to slow it down. From the Environment Aotearoa 2019 report, released by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, it becomes clear that the growth of urban centres threatens the limited versatile land surrounding regional centres such as Auckland, Waikato, and Canterbury.
The report also names lifestyle blocks as a threat to versatile land near urban centres, with an average of 5,800 new blocks a year since 1998, many of which encroach upon prime growing soils
Horticulture New Zealand has had on-going concerns about ongoing urban and lifestyle block expansion into prime growing land, and welcomed the report. "Some of this soil is unique, for example the volcanic soils around Pukekohe, where vegetables can be grown year-round, " said Horticulture New Zealand Natural Resources and Environment Manager Michelle Sands, ho added that New Zealand can’t afford to keep losing high-quality soils. "All land is not created equal, and this is not replicable elsewhere.”
She said 'urban creep' is already taking prime soils needed to grow domestic vegetables, land which will be increasingly important if New Zealand is to diversify its agriculture and transition to a low emissions economy.
"We support the acknowledgement of this issue in the Environment Aotearoa report, and look forward to working with the Government to ensure we don’t lose more valuable growing land, as well as improve environmental outcomes within horticulture. New Zealand has a growing population, and they need healthy fruit and vegetables; we cannot feed more people with less land."