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Additions to Lewis Pass National Reserve Welcomed

Likely additions to Lewis Pass National Reserve and Lake Sumner Forest Park welcomed

The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society today welcomed the prospect of significant additions to Lake Sumner Forest Park and the Lewis Pass National Reserve and stock being removed from several high country valleys.

Forest and Bird president, Dr Gerry McSweeney and Conservation Minister Chris Carter will speak at a gathering at Windy Point today to celebrate the Nature Heritage Fund’s purchase of two thirds of the 6,300 ha Poplars Station on the Lewis Pass Highway.

The Poplars purchase was a result of an application to the Nature Heritage Fund by Forest and Bird’s North Canterbury Branch. The Society congratulated the Fund and the Minister.

“The Poplars Range and the beech forests, kanuka/manuka and matagouri shrublands, and tussock grasslands of Poplars Station are a major part of the dramatic landscape experience for travellers on the Lewis Pass highway,” Forest and Bird field officer, Eugenie Sage said.

“The Hope, Kiwi, Boyle and Doubtful valleys are classic Canterbury high country landscapes with strong running rivers, matagouri and short tussock on river terraces and a backdrop of kanuka and manuka or beech forest on hillslopes. Getting stock out of part of these valleys will be a major conservation gain.

“The Fund’s 4,000 ha purchase will significantly reduce stock damage to beech forest margins and stream banks, and protect shrublands from burning and herbicide spraying.

“Matagouri shrublands can be several centuries old. Yet many high country farmers do not recognize matagouri’s importance in the landscape, as a colonizing species, a nitrogen fixer and its value to birds and invertebrates. They burn it, spray it, and clear it to replace it with grass, as happened on Lakes Station,” she said.

“The Poplars pastoral lease was a virtual enclave in the Lake Sumner Forest Park. The purchase will allow a significant addition to the park and potentially to the Lewis Pass National Reserve.

“It will open up 4000 hectares of easily accessible high country lands for public recreation and enjoyment. People can walk and tramp and fish without having to avoid cattle and their dung,” she said.

“The Hope, Kiwi and Doubtful valleys are already popular with trampers, deerstalkers and fishers. The Hope-Kiwi Track through the Poplars Station is one of the most commonly used access routes to Lake Sumner Forest Park.

“The Hope Kiwi Lodge on the track, the Amuri School Lodge at Windy Point and the nearby Boyle River Outdoor Education Centre mean the area is likely to be well used by school parties.”

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