Six commitments to improve waterways continue to drive action


One year on from the launch of an ambitious plan to help rebuild the health of New Zealand’s waterways, Fonterra is showing progress with more Sustainable Dairy Advisors on the ground and actions taking place across the country.

In November 2017, Fonterra announced six commitments to help protect and restore water quality in New Zealand.  

“Fresh water is such an important topic for New Zealanders so we want to keep people regularly updated on our commitments and be open about our progress,” says Carolyn Mortland, Fonterra’s Director of Sustainability.

Key milestones reached in the last 12 months include:

On farm:

  • Fonterra farmers have nearly excluded all dairy cattle from waterways on their farms – 99.6 per cent of permanent waterways are now fenced and 99.9 per cent of regular waterway crossings now have bridges or culverts.

  • Fonterra now employs 24 Sustainable Dairy Advisors (SDAs) across the country and is due to have 28 by the end of 2018, on the way to a target of 30 (double last year).

  • Fonterra’s TIAKI programme, which involves SDAs providing advice, tools and services to farmers, has helped see more than 1,000 Farm Environment Plans completed. These are tailored plans to improve environmental outcomes, utilising digital mapping tools and a suite of good management practices.  

At sites:

  • A recent water recycling innovation at Fonterra’s Pahiatua manufacturing site will save about half a million litres of water a day. Meanwhile Fonterra’s factory in Darfield has new technology which will reduce the amount of groundwater drawn by around 70 per cent.

  • Learnings from Pahiatua and Darfield will be applied elsewhere to help reach the 2020 target of reducing water use across 26 New Zealand manufacturing sites by 20 per cent.

Progress through partnerships:

  • Significant progress has been made at the halfway point of Fonterra’s 10-year Living Water partnership with the Department of Conservation, which is focussed on five freshwater catchments to identify game-changing and scalable solutions that demonstrate dairying and freshwater can thrive together.

  • Working with community stakeholders, the additional 50 catchments that Fonterra has committed to help restore have been identified and action planning is underway.

“Our focus continues to be working collaboratively with others who care about New Zealand’s waterways, because the task of reversing the decline in water quality over many years is complex and will only be achieved if everybody does their bit,” adds Mortland.

“It’s a long-term approach, and many of the results will only show over the long-term, but it’s crucial we keep up the hard work now to accelerate the national movement to rebuild the health of the country’s waterways.”

Fonterra’s six water commitments are as follows:

  1. Farm within regional environmental limits

  2. Encourage strong environmental farming practices

  3. Reduce water use and improve wastewater quality at manufacturing plants

  4. Build partnerships to improve waterway health

  5. Invest in science and innovation to find new solutions

  6. Make the products people value most

Fonterra also recently appointed a Sustainability Advisory Panel, with six independent experts, to help guide its sustainability strategy going forward.

For more information visit Fonterra’s water information hub here

A full picture of Fonterra’s commitments, progress and performance across environmental, social and economic topics for FY18 will be provided in its second annual Sustainability Report, which is due out at the end of November and will be published on