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