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Land Purchase Protects Endangered Fernbird - Lee

Hon Sandra Lee
Minister of Conservation

News release

25 January 2000

Land purchase protects endangered fernbird


The survival of fernbird in Marlborough will be ensured by the purchase of a block of land in the Wairau Valley, Conservation Minister Sandra Lee said today.

The Alliance deputy leader was announcing the purchase and formal protection of the block of land containing the largest single tract of lowland native vegetation still surviving in the Wairau Valley.

"The conservation of this habitat will ensure the survival of fernbird in Marlborough. This species was once common in the region but became almost extinct because of the destruction of its natural habitat. This new reserve will provide a home and well-spring for recolonisation of the species in the Wairau."

The 327-hectare block, bought from United States-owned forestry company Merrill & Ring, adjoins the southern side of Mt Richmond Forest Park. The block was formerly part of Merrill & Ring's Manuka Island pine forest. It is situated about 90km southwest of Blenheim, just upstream from the Wash Bridge on SH6.

The land was purchased for $141,000, including GST. The Department of Conservation will manage the block.

"I would like to thank Merrill & Ring, and in particular the company's vice-president Mr Norm Schaaf who is currently in New Zealand, for their support and assistance with the purchase of this land," Sandra Lee said.

"The kanuka and manuka shrubland covering this block are its natural vegetation as the soil was too infertile to support beech forest. Through this purchase we have guaranteed the protection of this unusual vegetation and safeguarded a corridor of native flora and fauna stretching from the Wairau River valley floor to the Red Hills ridge.

"This piece of land includes the Eve's Stream catchment, which is home to the largest population in Marlborough of the South Island fernbird, and it has a distinctive plateau-like glacial moraine that is one in a series of such moraines in the Wairau Valley. The moraines support plant communities unique to Marlborough including the largest known populations of coral mistletoe and hook grass in the northern South Island.

"We need to preserve areas such as these for the benefit of present and future generations so that all can enjoy and appreciate the native flora and fauna of our country."

Sandra Lee said Merrill & Ring had also agreed to two other sections of Manuka Island, totalling 55 hectares, being protected by conservation covenant. These included areas of tall kanuka forest.

"Merrill & Ring vice-president Mr Norman P Schaaf said, "I look forward to a continued good working relationship with the Department of Conservation as neighbours."

Further comment
Graeme Campbell 04 471 9868


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