Van­dals and cat­tle de­stroy­ing Mt Eden’s flora

Central Leader - - News - By Carly Tawhiao

Three years worth of vol­un­teer work on Mt Eden has been de­stroyed thanks to van­dals and a hun­gry herd of cows.

Friends of Maun­gawhau vol­un­teer Kit How­den says a wire fence was cut last month, which al­lowed 12 year­ling hef­fers to make a meal of whau and kawakawa plants.

“ In 24 hours, three years worth of re­gen­er­a­tion was de­pleted,” he says. “ It’s dev­as­tat­ing.”

Mr How­den says while the fence was quickly re­paired by graz­ing man­ager Peter Lin­ton, when the cows are taken off the moun­tain this win­ter they shouldn’t be al­lowed to re­turn.

“ They are four-legged lawn­mow­ers. Na­tive plants haven’t evolved to ex­ist with graz­ing an­i­mals.”

Mr Lin­ton holds a 50year-old agree­ment to graze cat­tle on the moun­tain.

The sum­mer sees a to­tal of 24 cows graz­ing, while 12 are taken off in the au­tumn and the re­main­ing 12 taken off in the win­ter.

He says van­dal­ism on Mt Eden is a big prob­lem.

“ There’s no rhyme or rea­son to it.

“ They break wa­ter troughs, cut fences with pliers to let dogs through,” he says.

“ They’ve even tried to cut the chains that lock the gates.”

Mr Lin­ton man­ages cat­tle herds on six coun­cilowned prop­er­ties, but says dur­ing his 20-year ca­reer, hu­mans ap­pear to cause the great­est prob­lems.

“ If the cat­tle are man­aged cor­rectly they do some dam­age, but not sig­nif­i­cantly more than peo­ple. Graf­fiti, bro­ken beer bot­tles and rub­bish.

“ Van­dal­ism is just part and par­cel,” he says.

Auck­land City Coun­cil arts, com­mu­nity and recre­ation man­ager Ruth Stokes says work­shops have re­cently taken place in­volv­ing Mt Eden’s veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment plan.

“Coun­cil is guided by the Maun­gawhau Mt Eden man­age­ment plan, which pro­vides for the longer term re­moval of the graz­ing stock.”

She says of­fi­cers are pre­par­ing a re­port for next month’s arts, cul­ture and recre­ation com­mit­tee meet­ing, where the fu­ture of cat­tle graz­ing will be dis­cussed.

Friends of Maun­gawhau vol­un­teer co­or­di­na­tor Jean Bar­ton says in the past four years vol­un­teers have put in more than 3300 hours of labour on the moun­tain, re­plac­ing ex­otic plants with na­tives.

She says the re­cent set­back has left the group un­de­terred.

“ More vol­un­teers are al­ways wel­come. Her­itage is not only found in a na­tional park or on a sanc­tu­ary is­land. It’s found here in the city,” she says.

“ Na­ture is where we live and the con­ver­va­tion starts in our own back gar­den.”

Friends of Maun­gawhau meets Tues­day at 9.30am on Bat­ger Rd. For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact 6307010.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Tricky ter­rain: Friends of Maun­gawhau co­or­di­na­tor Jean Bar­ton and vol­un­teers re­main pos­i­tive de­spite dev­as­ta­tion caused by cat­tle.

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