WELLINGTON, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand's most fertile and versatile land will be given new protection under proposals released on Wednesday by Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.
About 14 percent of New Zealand's land is categorized as highly productive.
"One of the greatest challenges facing the world right now is the need to feed a growing population. We have a well-earned reputation for producing some of the best food in the world," Agriculture Minister O'Connor said.
"Continuing to grow food in the volumes and quality we have come to expect depends on the availability of land and the quality of the soil. Once productive land is built on, we can't use it for food production, which is why we need to act now."
Environment Minister Parker said the government's draft National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (NPS-HPL) proposes a nationwide approach to protecting the most productive land for future generations.
"This stands alongside the new National Policy Statement for Urban Development, which will be released soon, to ensure we get the balance right and that the development we need is in the right place. We need to house our people and to feed them too," Parker said.
The policy proposes that councils be required to ensure there is enough highly productive land available for primary production now and in the future, and protect it from inappropriate subdivision, use and development.
Councils would need to do a full analysis of alternatives, benefits and costs when considering whether urban expansion should be located on highly productive land used for growing food and vegetables and for other primary production.