Thriving Southland ‘the difference that makes a difference’ — New Report


With more than 80 projects and almost $2m in funding accessed by Southland Catchment Groups during the past two years, farmers are hailing the success of the Thriving Southland Change and Innovation Project. 

Catchment Group numbers in Southland have doubled from 18 to 36 during the first two years of the project — and a report released this month titled Thriving Southland ‘the difference that makes a difference’ has highlighted progress the three-year project has achieved to date.

The project’s aims are to provide primary producers with regional leadership that is transparent and well-resourced, ensure Southland’s primary sector is agile and adaptable to change, and to support Southland’s primary production sector to develop and market its regional story.

Thriving Southland Project Lead Richard Kyte said the report showed Catchment Groups have been able to respond to localised environmental issues and make informed decisions that reflected their mutual needs and goals.

One of most pleasing findings was that the farmer-led model allowed Catchment Groups to operate at their own pace, with Thriving Southland there as a “backbone organisation” to support and facilitate in a hands-off way, enabling groups to lift engagement and deliver the outcomes they are looking for, but not taking them over, he said.

The report says measuring Thriving Southland’s effectiveness in supporting Catchment Groups to develop better farming practices is challenging when environmental outcomes may not be realised for 10 to 20 years.
“However, across the data and interview feedback there were clear examples of how the help from Thriving Southland has inspired community action and enabled farmers to become active participants in creating a better and exciting farming future,” it says.
Farmers were “only just getting started and need continued support, and as the initiative has the hallmarks of being valuable, they (the report’s authors) recommend that funders continue to invest in it”.
It goes on to say Thriving Southland supports good farming practice through Catchment Groups sharing ideas, innovation and good practice with Southland, and giving Catchment Groups the support to realise their potential for their community.
Catchment Groups were building capacity and accessing funds to carry out valuable projects, the Report says.
“Access to science is a catalyst to informing good farming practice and management, farmers are gaining knowledge and skills to drive positive change, improving their farming management practices and taking proactive steps toward farming for the future.”
Catchment Groups were building farmer resilience, supporting positive wellbeing and
helping build a greater sense of community and shared purpose, it says.
“With the help from Thriving Southland and other organisations, farmers feel supported and part of a larger team that shares common goals and aspirations.”  
In turn, Catchment Groups were building wide-ranging relationships and helping to socialise freshwater and land-use policy in a non-confrontational manner, the Report says.
“Catchment Group interviewees also discussed how Thriving Southland helped farmers see the environmental challenges more positively. They discussed how projects and events help to promote a sense of hope and optimism. As a result, farmers feel more in control and optimistic about their options.”  
Thriving Southland commissioned independent organisation, Pragmatica, to capture the learnings from their activities with Catchment Groups in the report — a summary of the report can be found here.
For more information contact: Phil McCarthy 021 191 7477

About Thriving Southland

Thriving Southland is an independent organisation that supports communities, through Catchment Groups, to create a better future by focusing on projects that build on Southland’s prosperity, heritage, environment and health.   There are 36 Catchment Groups in Southland, each bringing their communities together to learn about their catchments and find projects that work for their unique areas. Many Groups are currently focusing on water quality projects and what they can do to look after the water for future generations. 

Thriving Southland is funded by Ministry of Primary Industries.



This product has been added to your cart