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Mackenzie agreement confirms it is a working landscape

13 May 2013

Mackenzie agreement confirms it is a working landscape

Farmers who work the Mackenzie country are central to its future and that has been recognised in the Mackenzie Agreement, which was launched on Sunday. This Agreement fundamentally recognises the iconic region to be a working rural landscape.

“The Mackenzie Agreement is a significant achievement,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“This agreement is a tribute to all those who sat down to understand each other’s point of view. It is environmental groups, recreational users and tourism interests reaching common ground with farmers that the Mackenzie is a working landscape with high conservation values.

“Federated Farmers acknowledges the foresight of Dr. Nick Smith, who as Minister for the Environment, urged all interest groups to talk. He then followed this up with additional support following advice from Federated Farmers that agreement was indeed possible

“While images of the Mackenzie may appear as if they are off a chocolate box it can be a harsh and unforgiving environment. Farmers cherish the Mackenzie because that is where they work and live every day of the year. They have a genuine bond with the land.

“Farmers are also the only ones who fund the control of animal pests like rabbits. While there is some assistance with wilding conifers and hawkweed, farmers mostly pay for their control too.

“Recognition that conservation on effectively private land delivers a public good is most welcome. Not only that, but development can go hand-in-hand with environmental aims.

“Farmers never wanted to irrigate the entire Mackenzie, rather, farmers wanted to enable irrigation in the Mackenzie where it is most suited.

“The agreement provides for 32,600 hectares of the Mackenzie to be irrigated. To put that into perspective, the Mackenzie District alone covers an area of 744,000 hectares.

“It is estimated irrigation will add $6 million each year to the Government’s tax-take through increased economic activity. Meanwhile, varying levels of environmental management on some 100,000 hectares is estimated to cost $3.7 million.

“We are informed that High Country dairy farms provide an ideal environment for the Kārearea.

“With 323,000 hectares of the Mackenzie in Crown pastoral leases, the Agreement focuses on the 250,000 hectares of flat and easy country which is in freehold title or potentially freeholdable under tenure review.

“As there is huge uncertainty and cost whenever the Resource Management Act pops up, the plan is to establish a Trust that will enter into voluntary ‘Joint Management Agreements’ with land occupiers.

“These Joint Management Agreements potentially defuse RMA conflicts by empowering local decision making. To make that possible, the RMA itself will need amendment.

“So the Mackenzie Agreement now needs a package of legislative change and funding.

“While we have recognition that the Mackenzie is a working evolving rural landscape, there is wider recognition that the cost and benefits of conservation are for all, so needs to be shared by all,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

ENDS

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