Sustainable Prosperity Trust of Aotearoa

Land and Soil


“The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”

– Franklin D Roosevelt


Urban development has caused our relationship with land and soil to change. Moving from land as a life source to land as capital has resulted in a shift in how we extract value from the land we live on. Balance between the various demands on our land use must be restored.

Approximately half of New Zealand’s land area is used by our primary industries. Soil management and preservation is vital to continuing productive processes. It’s what happens on our land that impacts our freshwater, coasts and climate.

The expansion of urban areas and a shift from pastoral sheep farming to beef to dairy has seen land use change dramatically over the past two decades. Our approach to resource management must focus on looking beyond keeping up with our changing needs and shift towards more proactive land use.

The size of New Zealand’s towns and cities has increased in total by 10 per cent between 2002 and 2012. There is a natural tension between urban expansion and the protection of versatile soils. Working collectively, we need to identify innovative ways to balance our need for new housing with impacts on land and soil.