Soil conservation planting

Trees can help reduce erosion, keeping valuable soil on your land and preventing sediment getting into waterways. This maintains the land's health and productivity and improves local water quality.

Why soil conservation planting is important

The benefits of planting for soil conservation include:

  • reduced erosion and sediment loss
  • maintaining healthy and productive soil
  • improved water quality
  • reduced damage to infrastructure from mass movement of land, soil deposition and gradual erosion of tracks and roads
  • reduced flood flows and streambank erosion.

How trees conserve soil

Trees conserve soil by:

  • binding soils with their roots to improve land stability
  • creating a canopy to intercept rain and allow it to reach the soil more slowly
  • providing shade and additional organic matter so soils are more likely to retain moisture and reduce flood flows.

Different ways you can plant for soil conservation

Planting for soil conservation can include:

  • retiring land from grazing and letting it revert to native vegetation – either naturally or with planting
  • widely spaced planting of trees across paddocks (particularly poplars and willows)
  • riparian planting
  • planting trees for harvest, where appropriate.

Identify the reasons why you are going to treat the land for soil loss. For example, are you doing riparian planting or planting on steep slopes? What are the risks and what do you want to achieve?

Your regional council can provide you with advice on how to best control erosion on your property. Many can also provide funding support for treating erosion prone land.

For more information on riparian and other waterway planting, see our waterway planting pages.

Planting around waterways

Trees on farms

Planting trees on farms can provide other benefits like shade, shelter and fodder for stock.

Take a whole farm approach to see which parts of your land are the most vulnerable and least productive for livestock. Prioritise where you need to plant first and include this information in your farm planner.

Planting trees on farms

Learn about how trees can help with soil conservation on farms from farm foresters who have seen the benefits first hand.

Trees for soil conservation: New Zealand Farm Forestry Association – YouTube

Funding and planting advice

Get help with costs Planting advice and help

Case studies

The Hill Country Erosion Programme has some examples of how the programme is helping landowners tackle erosion and manage sediment loss.

manuka planting

Solving a catastrophic slip with mānuka planting

Late in 2012, Michael Bird was busy lambing when the family farm outside Taihape suddenly slumped.

Learn more about Solving a catastrophic slip with mānuka planting
hcep case study image v2

Gathering momentum in the battle against hill country erosion

Waikato's remote western hill country is notorious for its highly erodible land.

Learn more about Gathering momentum in the battle against hill country erosion
whangawehi catchment v2

Joining forces to safeguard a precious catchment

In 2010, tangata whenua at remote Whangawehi on the eastern side of Mahia Peninsula voiced concerns about the potential effects of a new wastewater system on their sacred river, estuary and mahinga kai beds.

Learn more about Joining forces to safeguard a precious catchment
partnerships erosion

The role of good partnerships in tackling erosion

One day out at Diane Strugnell’s property near Porirua, Jamie Peryer casually compared farm wetlands to a kidney filtering out impurities. Diane suddenly had a lightbulb moment.

Learn more about The role of good partnerships in tackling erosion
erosion lifestyle

Tackling erosion challenges out on the lifestyle block

Raising erosion awareness among Nelson’s lifestyle block owners has boosted local resilience, enhanced community partnerships, and seen 35,000 trees planted.

Learn more about Tackling erosion challenges out on the lifestyle block