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An Environment Southland councillor has questioned whether farmers will be paid to convert land for the benefit of the environment.
The Environmental Defence Society annual conference started in Christchurch on Wednesday.
To a panel discussing environmental reforms and land use change in New Zealand, Cr Peter McDonald said it was not that long ago dairy that farmers in Southland had the red carpet rolled out for them.
‘‘Now we’re telling people, ‘It’s a bad thing, no no no’,’’ he said.
He found it an interesting question as to how a transition would be funded, if it was.
Castalia manager Dr David Gawith said it was a question of what was a reasonable reference level.
‘‘I think there is a genuine case for offering some reward ... considering the scale of land use change that’s required and in order for us to meet our long-term goals, we need to think very seriously about land retirement of marginal farms.’’
If a farm was to cease farming, the value of that land was not zero.
‘‘We need to find a way of really capturing benefits of letting land revert or restoring land.’’