Farm­ers take con­ser­va­tion to heart

South Waikato News - - Motoring - JILL GAL­LOWAY

Farm­ers are com­mit­ting the equiv­a­lent of $1.1 to $1.3 bil­lion by set­ting aside valu­able land for re­serves and is proof they be­lieve in con­ser­va­tion, says Fed­er­ated Farm­ers.

A study by the Uni­ver­sity of Waikato In­sti­tute for Busi­ness Re­search high­lights the value of land placed un­der covenant.

‘‘Farm­ers have been front and cen­tre in the ac­tiv­i­ties of the QEII Na­tional Trust right from the start. We con­grat­u­late them on their 40th an­niver­sary, and for com­mis­sion­ing this study,’’ said En­vi­ron­ment and wa­ter spokesman Chris Allen.

He said more than 4300 property own­ers had put land in the trust over 40 years.

The re­search found that farm­ers spend about $25 mil­lion of their own money ev­ery year to pro­tect na­tive species, forests, wetlands and other spe­cial ar­eas in their QEII covenants.

Land own­ers had made a fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment of be­tween $1.1 and $1.3 bil­lion in di­rect or lost op­por­tu­nity costs es­tab­lish­ing and main­tain­ing land un­der covenant since the QE II Trust that Gor­don Stephen­son lob­bied for was set up in 1977.

‘‘These spe­cial sites have even more pro­tec­tion than na­tional parks. The QEII covenants can­not be re­voked by sub­se­quent land own­ers.’’

When Gor­don and Celia Stephen­son put a four hectare stand of na­tive bush on their farm near Pu­taruru un­der QEII covenant for per­ma­nent pro­tec­tion, they were the first to do so. They were not to know that over the next 40 years, more than 4300 property own­ers would follow suit, said Allen.

‘‘The land sur­round­ing 69 per cent of covenanted sites is used for graz­ing.

‘‘While not all of the covenanted land would be suit­able for farm­ing, it’s no sur­prise to us that thou­sands of farm­ers have vol­un­tar­ily opted to per­ma­nently pro­tect im­por­tant wet­land, bush and land­scape sites, and to forgo rev­enue from it,’’ Allen said.

More peo­ple will be able to visit a re­serve that is only 20 min­utes from the Tararua town Woodville be­cause of new ac­cess, says an en­vi­ron­ment group.

QE11 Na­tional Trust rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Tararua re­gion, Bill Wal­lace was at the open­ing of a new bridge and track at the Awapikopiko Re­serve at Kumeroa.

He said the 28 hectare re­serve had a new 2.5 loop track as well as the bridge for ac­cess.

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