The award, in the Caring for our Water category, was presented to Taranaki Regional Council chairman David MacLeod by Environment Minister Amy Adams at a function at the Beehive last night.
MacLeod said the award was recognition for the council’s riparian management programme, one of New Zealand’s most significant voluntary, unsubsidised, environmental enhancement projects.
“It’s huge – the equivalent of fencing and planting both sides of the highway between New Plymouth and Auckland about 20 times over,” he said.
“We’ve already got 3,000,000 native plants in the ground and there are millions more to come.”
MacLeod said the Green Ribbon Award is an honour for the whole Taranaki region, not just the council.
“In particular, it is for the hundreds of Taranaki farmers who have been working with the council and other partners for two decades now to protect and enhance the region’s waterways by fencing and planting thousands of kilometres of stream banks,” he said.
The project is the largest enhancement planting scheme on private land in New Zealand, involving nearly 2400 riparian plan-holders in Taranaki, including 1760 dairy farmers.
When it is complete, around 13,000km of stream banks will be protected with fencing and vegetation. So far, more than 75% of stream banks are fenced and more than 60% have riparian vegetation.