The newly established Pareora Catchment Society will lead a public discussion workshop on all aspects of catchment management on the last Saturday in July.
The society grew out of the Pareora Catchment Group, one of several catchment advisory groups in South Canterbury.
Spokesman and secretary for both groups Tom O’Connor said helping Environment Canterbury with advice and local knowledge on river catchment issues was an important role for any rural community, but being restricted to giving advice had become frustrating for many people who also wanted a hands-on role.
“That has become particularly important with the growing challenges of climate change and animal pests like wallabies and possums in some parts of the catchment, and invasive weeds and water quality in other parts.
“ECan does not have enough operational resources to undertake these tasks so we decided to take some of them on ourselves.
“As a properly registered incorporated society we will have the independence and ability to apply for government funding for some of this work.”
Mr O’Connor said the new society would work closely with Environment Canterbury and district councils on major projects and the original catchment committee would continue to provide advice.
Society member Phil Driver, who will lead the workshop, said there was a need for an integrated catchment-wide response to climate change, biodiversity, pests and water, so the society wanted to give the community an opportunity to openly explore how to develop that response.
“There is a lot of conjecture and misinformation about climate change and how it will affect us but the reality is that the government has started on a programme of responses and we can choose to develop our own responses or they will be developed for us.
“Doing nothing and hoping it will all go away is no longer an option.”
Dr Driver said communities needed to look after themselves and prepare for logically predictable changes in climate and subsequent weather patterns locally, as well as be part of the national and global response to climate change.
“It’s a two-pronged approach and the first step in that process is to have a clear understanding of what climate change and related challenges really mean, and then decide what our responses should be.
“We need the involvement of the community for that to happen.”