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Unique Auckland Rock Forest Saved

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee says a unique stand of Auckland rock forest has been saved after DOC negotiated a settlement with the land's owner, a prospective developer and the local council.

Ms Lee said the 1.4-hectare site at Almorah Road in Epsom contains remnants of native forest on a 19,000-year-old basalt lava flow, the largest surviving patch of volcanic material thrown up by nearby Mt Eden.

"What makes the site unique is that the trees, which include mature titoki, karaka, mahoe and pohutukawa, and the ferns are all growing through and over slabs and boulders of the volcanic rock," she said. "In addition, a rare plant community can be found at the site, distinct from that found on Rangitoto lava flows. The local native wildlife includes kereru, tui and other native birds. Several distinctive species of native snails are found here too. Lava flow forests once covered a significant part of the Auckland Isthmus, but 5,000 hectares of continuous forest has sadly been reduced to a few remaining fragments."

Ms Lee said the property was the home of Auckland businessman Sir William Goodfellow, before it was sold to the Crown in 1952. The most recent government owner, the Child Youth and Family Services agency put the site on the market two years ago, attracting a developer who lodged a resource consent application last December to build 12-14 townhouse units there.

The Conservation Minister said after negotiations between DOC, the developer, and Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) acting as agent for Child Youth and family, the outcome is that DOC and the developer have agreed to divide the ownership of the 1.4-hectare site between them.

Ms Lee said the 6,300 square metres of rock forest would pass into DOC ownership and would be managed by the Auckland City Council, which has also agreed to meet the cost of eradicating weeds. The Department of Conservation would contribute just over $300,000 towards the purchase.

Ends

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