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"Outstanding" Tussock Grassland

"Outstanding" Tussock Grassland Added To New Zealand's Conservation Heritage

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee says the government is redressing the imbalance in New Zealand's parks and reserves system by adding more tussock grasslands to the steepland forests and mountain tops already under protection.

"The great tussock grassland ecosystems are this country's equivalent of North America's prairies or the steppes of Russia," Ms Lee said, "which is why I am pleased to announce the Nature Heritage Fund has purchased 1300 hectares of outstanding tussock grassland at Central Otago's Lammerlaw Range."

"Tussock grasslands are an essential element of New Zealand's landscape ecology and culture, but historically were poorly represented in the parks and reserves system," she said. "The striking vistas of open tussock-covered tops define the character of much of the South Island."

"The newly acquired land is located north of Lawrence and comprises tall tussock land with a significant shrubland component including areas of bogpine at high altitudes, sedge-rush wetlands and sphagnum bogs, " she said. "Combined with adjacent conservation areas, the land will form part of the proposed 17,000 hectare Te Papanui Conservation Park."

Both the Marjorie Barclay Trust, administered by the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, and the Miss E.L. Hellaby Indigenous Grasslands Research Trust contributed toward the purchase. The block will be administered as conservation land by the Department of Conservation.

"The government's willingness to have more tussock grasslands protected as Conservation Parks is driven by the recognition in the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy that loss of our indigenous biodiversity is our most pervasive environmental problem," Ms Lee said.

"The purchase of this 1300 hectare Central Otago block is symbolic of our determination not just to halt biodiversity loss but to actively restore outstanding areas of high value and add them to New Zealand's conservation heritage."

Media contacts:
Allan McKenzie, DOC Manager (Landowner Relations),
04 471 3099 or 025 395 609

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