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Forest & Bird Invited To Set Up Drylands Park

Forest & Bird Invited To Set Up Drylands Park Itself

Federated Farmers has invited Forest & Bird to go into the open market and buy farmland for the Mackenzie drylands park it wishes to establish.

“I’m taken aback by how misinformed Forest & Bird seem to be about High Country farming, conservation and tenure,” says Graham Reed, Federated Farmers High Country chairperson.

“By 2008, High Country farmers had voluntarily protected over 13,000 hectares in 42 QEII National Trust covenants around Central Otago, Waitaki, Queenstown-Lakes and the Mackenzie.

“I’m reliably told that Black Stilts are actually thriving with irrigation. Even if we put together all the irrigation we have or is planned, this comprises less than five percent of the Mackenzie.

“The landscape is already modified after 150 years of grazing. Without livestock, Forest & Bird won’t end up with a drylands park, but a park for rabbits, hieracium and wilding conifers.

“Yet I doubt many farmers would have an issue with Forest & Bird if it raised money from its supporters to buy High Country farms on the open market. Except Forest & Bird’s advocacy people expect the taxpayer and the State to do its bidding for it.

“I think people need to know that tenure review is really a quid-pro-quo exercise. If freehold title is on the table then negotiations are about the protection of applicable conservation interests.

“If a Crown Lease property in the Mackenzie Basin is acutely important, then the Crown can negotiate a whole property purchase. If not, or if the Tenure Review doesn’t proceed, then we’ll continue farming business as usual as we’ve done for the past 150 years.

“Yet if New Zealanders want the High Country put into aspic, as a scenic backdrop for passing tourists or movies, then we’ll need compensation provisions put into the Resource Management Act. This is about respecting property rights, as I imagine few in our cities would like central Government telling them what size house to live in.

“Yet from reading Forest & Bird’s media statement, it’s clear their advocacy people have little understanding of the High Country or High Country Pastoral Leases, so I’m happy to help educate them,” Mr Reed concluded.

ENDS

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