Farms open gates to the public to show protection of waterways

Forty farms across the country opened their gates today, inviting thousands of Kiwis to come and see what farmers are doing to protect waterways.

One of the farmers was Jamie Lyons, a fourth generation farmer who's working to reduce his farm's environmental footprint.

"Not an animal on our farm touches the water. All our little drains are fenced off, but now we've got the big project finished so that's been a big commitment for us financially. But we've got there and it's going to be better for all," Mr Lyons said.

However, ecologist Dr Mike Joy says farmers are avoiding the real issue - reducing the number of cows.

"This is a two-and-a-half million dollar charm offensive on New Zealand because they've lost their social license because New Zealand is realising the impact and the price they're paying for that dairy intensification," Dr Joy said.

Forest and Bird agrees. The animal protection organisation says while the farmers' efforts are a step in the right direction, more needs to be done if we are to save our native fish, with 74 per cent heading for extinction.

The drop in the native fish population is largely being driven by the dairy industry, it says.

While some sceptics are yet to be convinced, farmers hope today's event will help bridge the urban-rural divide.

Environmentalists aren't convinced, saying the sector needs to do much more. Source: 1 NEWS