Salt marsh con­ser­va­tion recog­nised

Otago Daily Times - - GENERAL - JONO ED­WARDS jono.ed­wards@odt.co.nz

A DUNEDIN cou­ple have be­come part of New Zealand pri­vate­land­con­ser­va­tion his­tory through their ef­forts to pro­tect their Mer­ton salt marsh.

Judy and Gary Shields were in Wellington yes­ter­day for the 40th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions of the QEII Na­tional Trust.

They were in­vited as their 9ha salt marsh at Mer­ton, near Kar­i­tane, was the 4400th QEII covenant cre­ated.

The trust puts pro­tec­tions on na­tive or cul­tur­ally im­por­tant pri­vate land with the in­ten­tion of pro­tect­ing it from devel­op­ment or al­ter­ation.

Mrs Shields said their covenant made up part of a 16ha piece of land they bought in 2010, although they still live in Dunedin.

They wanted to pro­tect the salt marsh be­cause it was ‘‘beau­ti­ful’’ and the home to a va­ri­ety of wildlife, she said.

‘‘There are spoon­bills, plovers, swans, ducks. It’s also a breed­ing ground for na­tive eels,’’ Mrs Shields said.

The covenanted block of land was ‘‘very dif­fer­ent’’ to most of the other covenants which were gen­er­ally na­tive bush, she pointed out.

The cou­ple were ‘‘very in­ter­ested in con­ser­va­tion’’, she said.

‘‘We’re al­ways plant­ing na­tive trees. Just by our­selves we’ve put in about 200 trees on that land.’’

They were ‘‘very ex­cited and sur­prised’’ to be in­vited to join in the trust’s cel­e­bra­tions, she said.

Trust chair­man James Guild said its work was in­te­gral to New Zealand con­ser­va­tion ef­forts as 70% of the coun­try’s land was pri­vately owned.

Of that pri­vate land 1% (185,000ha) was now in covenants, Mr Guild said.

‘‘Once in a covenant, that land is pro­tected for­ever. We’ve gone to court to en­sure that.’’

The trust pays to sur­vey covenant land and shares the costs for fenc­ing it, while the land owner acts as its day­to­day pro­tec­tor.

The cel­e­bra­tions yes­ter­day in­cluded the re­lease of a book out­lin­ing the trust’s his­tory.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Con­ser­va­tion com­mit­ment . . . QEII Na­tional Trust Otago rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robin Thomas (left), Gary and Judy Shields and trust chair­man Mike Jeb­son at a cel­e­bra­tion of the trust’s 40th an­niver­sary in Wellington yes­ter­day.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Gary and Judy Shields’ newly covenanted salt marsh, near Kar­i­tane.

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