Sheep and beef farming in New Zealand’s hill country landscapes is subject to multiple pressures including increasing competition by forestry, more stringent environmental regulation, changing consumer expectations and new market requirements. Farmers and others in the industry are questioning how they can become more resilient to these pressures. In response to these questions, the Hill Country Futures Programme was established. 

This five-year long research programme, led by Beef + Lamb New Zealand is investigating how to ensure the long-term profitability, sustainability and well-being of New Zealand’s hill country farmers and their farm systems. This ground-breaking research differs from most New Zealand pastoral research, in that its interdisciplinary approach draws on national scientific and farming expertise to consider the whole-farm system and the wider communities that these systems exist within. The Hill Country Futures programme is co-funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Seed Force New Zealand and PGG Wrightson Seeds.  

Nature Positive is leading the social science research team for the Hill Country Futures programme. 

Our work has included in-depth stakeholder consultations, the development of a sector-wide vision for resilient hill country futures and creating a well-being assessment tool to guide decision making for farmers and catchment groups on their journey towards greater resilience.  

In addition, the social science team is crafting a series of stories that showcase opportunities for improved resilience at the farm or landscape scale level. These inspiring stories demonstrate pathways towards  improvement for climate, environmental, livestock and/or community outcomes. They are intended for use in media, farm extension and also through market and farm assurance programmes such as New Zealand’s Taste Pure Nature campaign. 

More information on the Hill Country Futures Programme can be found at: www.hillcountryfutures.co.nz