Farmers take conservation to heart
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.