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New fund launched to support QEII covenantors

Media Statement

Embargoed till 9 May 2017

New fund launched to support QEII covenantors

A new fund to help covenantors with the management of their covenants was launched today by QEII National Trust Chair, James Guild, at an event hosted by Rt Hon David Carter at Parliament’s Grand Hall.

The Stephenson Fund for Covenant Enhancement aims to support covenantors with strategically important enhancement projects they have planned for their covenants.

It can also be used to help covenantors with recovery plans for their covenants after being hit by extreme natural events, or if they are facing other challenges such as large financial burdens or health issues.

Mr Guild says the National Trust’s thousands of covenantors have contributed millions of dollars over the years in managing and enhancing their covenants that protect natural and cultural heritage features on their land.

This is done voluntarily and across New Zealand’s privately owned, lowland landscapes where some of our richest biodiversity is represented but where it is most at risk and least protected, he says.

‘Their philanthropic action and desire to do the right thing by the land are the values that underpin the National Trust, and they are leaving an enduring legacy on the land for future generations of New Zealanders to enjoy,’ he says.

Mr Guild says the Fund was set up because the National Trust recognises that management challenges can be costly and, for some covenantors, can be overwhelming.

The fund does not draw on taxpayer money. It is funded using income from other sources, including bequests, donations, and revenue from the National Trust’s investment portfolio.

Successful applicants may receive up to 50% of the total costs of their projects up to a maximum of $20,000.

The fund will not be available to support normal management activity that is a requirement of the covenant deed, or any activities that are part of a consent process or other legal obligations.

The Stephenson Fund for Covenant Enhancement was named for Gordon and Celia Stephenson. Gordon Stephenson was a key founder of the QEII National Trust, and together with his wife Celia, was the first to register an QEII open space covenant with the National Trust in 1979.

Around $150,000 a year will be set aside for the fund. The National Trust will be seeking donations and sponsorship to replenish and help grow the fund.

The launch of The Stephenson Fund is one of a number of events organized by the National Trust as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations this year.

The QEII National Trust was established in 1977 and partners with private landowners wanting to permanently protect special natural and cultural features on their land with covenants. QEII (open space) covenants are binding agreements that are registered on the land title and protect the associated land forever. The covenanting landowner and subsequent owners of the land retain ownership of the covenanted area.

Since 1977, the National Trust has established over 4300 covenants with landowners, protecting around 180,000ha of special places on private land.

ENDS

Website: www.openspace.org.nz


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