Farm succession may not delay the progress of environmental initiatives initially feared, says the head of Thriving Southland.
Richard Kyte is the project lead for Thriving Southland and said the study commissioned by the community-led entity showed there are not the intergenerational conflict or differing priorities that were initially perceived.
Thriving Southland was established to create provincial prosperity through healthy people and a healthy environment; 35 community catchment groups play a central role in it.
Thriving Southland employs co-ordinators to assist the volunteer-run catchment groups.
Kyte said there was a fear among catchment groups that the demands of farm succession and potentially intergenerational conflict could hinder investment in environmental projects.
The study showed that was not the case.
One example was the different approach to wetlands.
Older generations were encouraged to drain them, but many from younger generations want them reinstated for environmental benefits.
“Previously they were drained by farmers but they were low productivity and high cost to maintain, and now known to have high value managing nutrient.”
Kyte said many older farmers say that if they had their time again, they would have left the wetlands alone.
The benefit of the study was not just to quantify the impact of farm succession on environmental progress, but to remind families of the need to start discussions about succession early.
“Families need to work together and understand how succession is going to happen.
“If it is left too late, it is more difficult to work through.”
Environmental progress should be looked at as one element in succession planning, alongside financial, strategic, operational and management capabilities.
Kyte said the other crucial finding was the need to engage professionals to provide advice and expertise to families.