Hill Country Erosion Programme

Hill Country Erosion Programme helps protect erosion-prone hill country. It provides leadership and targeted support to regional and unitary councils. Find out how the programme works and why it's needed.

2018 HCE funding expanded

The Hill Country Erosion Programme (HCE) usually runs a funding round once every 4 years.

In 2018, due to an increase in funding the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is:

  • running 2 separate funding rounds
  • adding alpine and coastal erosion areas to fund eligibility
  • removing the 5 hectare limit on land that can be treated.

The HCE Programme will support proposals where the main treatment is tree planting, including appropriate species for natural vegetative cover.

Contestable funding rounds in 2018

HCE Boost – a one-off opportunity to access funds for projects to be completed by end June 2019.

  • Applications open 1 June 2018
  • Applications close at 5pm on 15 June 2018
  • Funds available: $1.8 million

HCE Standard – the 4-yearly funding round.

  • Applications open 1 October 2018
  • Applications close at 5pm on 31 October 2018
  • Funds available: $34 million over 4 years.

About the HCE Programme

Hill Country Erosion Fund Graphic

The HCE Programme is a partnership between MPI, regional councils, and landowners that aims to:

  • plan for and treat erosion-prone land
  • put sustainable management practices in place.

The HCE Programme uses a total catchment management approach to reduce erosion. This requires all landowners and community members to get involved in identifying issues and creating solutions in their catchments. Reducing erosion in the upper areas of a catchment costs less than the cost of flooding and flood-control structures in the lower areas.


Who can apply

The HCE Programme is open to all regional councils and unitary authorities. For landowners, we recommend you make contact with your council's land manager to work directly with them.

Apply for funding

Step 1: Check your project is eligible

To be eligible, your project must demonstrate:

  • section 1 or section 2, and
  • both section 3 and section 4. 
Section 1

Your project involves a significant problem beyond the scope of the regional council because it:

  • has significant national effects (positive or negative), or
  • requires solutions at multi-regional scale, or
  • affects an area of national significance (people outside the region place a significant value or receive significant benefit from the resource).
Section 2

The problem may currently (or in the near future) be beyond the capacity of local government because:

  • the sheer scale of the problem, when considered on a total catchment basis, exceeds the resources of the council
  • the region lacks the income from its rating base, or other assets, or cannot prioritise resources to address the problem and carry out its other functions
  • the problem is longstanding and was inherited by the regional council when it was established and is, therefore, at a disadvantage compared with other regions.
Section 3
  • The problem must be quantified in environmental and economic terms. The costs and benefits of the proposal need to be clearly described to enable a balanced judgement of whether the proposal is rational to fund from an economic perspective.
Section 4
  • The proposed solution is consistent with achieving Government's desired Sustainable Land Management outcomes.

Step 2: Check your project against the assessment criteria

We assess applications using the following criteria. For a better chance of success, consider each criterion and what you need to do before you prepare your application.

Assessment criteria

CriterionWhat you need to do
Significance of the problem or opportunity


  • how significant the problem or opportunity is to the region
  • its relative priority to the sector and/or region.

We'll take into account links to strategic plans or policy objectives (if applicable).

Contribution to the One  Billion Tree initiative Clearly demonstrate how many trees will be planted as a result of MPI investment.
Contribution to environmental sustainability Demonstrate how the project will contribute to environmental sustainability for the region.
Contribution to economic and social sustainability Demonstrate how the project will contribute to economic and social sustainability for the region.
Ability to deliver Provide details of project management, financial management, technical skills, and a sound methodology.
Value for money Demonstrate a good return on investment.

We'll consider the:

  • overall value of the outcomes of the project – whether economic, environmental or social
  • level of non-HCE funding and in-kind contributions relative to the project outcomes.


  • any risks posed by the project
  • technical and delivery risks
  • how risks might be mitigated.

MPI must be satisfied that the level of residual risk is acceptable and that the funding asked for is appropriate for this level of risk.

Adoption and extension planning Show that project work can be shared through appropriate networks.

Step 3: Prepare your application

Contact MPI

Contact MPI to ask for an application form, and to discuss your proposal and the application process.

Complete the application form

The application form includes guidance. When completing your application, make sure you include all required information, including:

  • project overview
  • project details
  • funding and milestones (including copies of letters or emails from proposed co-funders showing funding status)
  • project budget
  • completed declaration.

Email your completed application to funding@mpi.govt.nz 

Or post to:

Ministry for Primary Industries
Hill Country Erosion Programme
PO Box 2526
Wellington 6140.

What happens next

Once we've received your application we will assess it for eligibility and against the assessment criteria.

MPI will contact you to let you know how your application is progressing.

Poplars and willows for erosion control

Poplars and willows are used extensively under the Hill Country Erosion Programme. They're hardy, fast-growing trees that are suited to reducing erosion and providing stream bank protection due to their extensive and deep root network.

They also:

  • provide animal welfare benefits through the provision of shade, shelter, and fodder in drought and flood situations
  • filter and uptake nutrients, particularly nitrogen from groundwater
  • qualify (at appropriate planting densities) for carbon credits through the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about the Hill Country Erosion Programme:

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