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Bellamy To Celebrate Preservation Of NZ Treasures


28 August 2002

MEDIA RELEASE IMMEDIATE

Bellamy to celebrate preservation of NZ treasure-troves [562 words]

Renowned botanist Dr David Bellamy will visit New Zealand in November to help celebrate the 25th birthday of the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust.

Since 1977, more than 1600 land owners have taken out open covenants with the Trust, protecting 56,000 hectares of native bush and other national treasures on private land.

The QEII Trust open covenant system allows unique, natural features on private land to be legally protected while the land owner retains ownership and management.

To celebrate the Trust's silver jubilee, the Governor General, Dame Silvia Cartwright will host a black tie dinner at Government House in November, with Dr Bellamy as guest speaker. Tickets went on sale this month, with proceeds going to the Trust.

QEII National Trust chairperson, Sir Paul Reeves, says land once covered with rich forests and wetlands is now intensively farmed, and much of the little that remains has been protected by farmers with the help of the Trust.

"When the farming industry was established, whole eco-systems were destroyed, so the fragments which remain are very important."

He says the Trust acts like a kaitiaki or guardian of much of the remaining indigenous biodiversity and cultural heritage of New Zealand.

"It's urgent --- we have only got one shot at protection. Some of these places are treasure-troves of native plants and wildlife. Once they're gone they're gone for good."

Sir Paul says an important cultural shift is taking place among land owners and managers in New Zealand.

"Increasingly native vegetation, landforms, wetlands and cultural features are seen as assets. And people are prepared to fund and manage land to protect and enhance these assets.

"Land owners are the residential custodians of what we seek to protect."

Now in its 25th year, Sir Paul says the Trust is finding it hard to keep up with the demand from land owners.

"The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust Act became law in 1977. To commemorate the Queen's silver jubilee, parliament established a trust to 'encourage and promote the provision, protection and enhancement of open space for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of New Zealand'.

"This year, the Trust is 25 years old and it's the year in which we celebrated the 1500th covenant --- on Graeme and Chris Henriksens' South Canterbury property.

"This was the Henriksens' third covenant and they represent, in a spectacular way, the commitment and enthusiasm of land owners. It took us 20 years to notch up 1000 covenants, but it has only taken another five to reach 1500."

Trust chief executive Margaret McKee says land protected by open covenants may include any important landscape feature of aesthetic, cultural, recreational, scenic, scientific or social value.

It may also include wetlands, streams, lakes, forests, forest remnants, tussock grasslands, archaeological and geological features, coastlines and rural landscapes.

"The merits are assessed on a case by case basis, but if an ecological assessment shows an area is worthy of protection, an open space covenant can be registered against the land.

"This is a legal agreement between the National Trust and a land owner, and is registered on the title of the land --- so it binds future owners to the agreement. With a covenant on the land, the land owner still owns it, but the National Trust acts as a permanent trustee."

To purchase a ticket to the silver jubilee dinner, freephone the Trust, tel 0508 732 878.

[ends]

Issued for the QEII Trust by:

Trevor Walton, APR WHAM Group Limited PO Box 11-092, Wellington, New Zealand Tel 04-381 4653 Fax 04-381 4654 www.wham.co.nz trevor@wham.co.nz


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