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Wizard's Domain To Be Cleansed Of Cloven Intruders

12 June 2002

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee today announced the Nature Heritage Fund has reached an agreement to withdraw cattle grazing rights over a key area within the Te Wahipounamu (South West New Zealand) World Heritage Area.

"The terraces and flats of Cattle Flat in the upper Dart Valley of the Mt Aspiring National Park in Otago have been grazed for many years under legal arrangements," Ms Lee said.

"However, times have changed and grazing in National Parks is less acceptable to the public than it was when the Park was established in 1964.”

Ms Lee said the Dart Valley was an area of outstanding conservation significance in the World Heritage Area, with the lower Dart Valley serving as the backdrop to Isengard, the domain of the evil wizard Saruman in the Lord of the Rings films.

“The government is pleased that settlement was reached to the satisfaction of both the Cattle Flat concessionaires and the Crown," she said.

“Certain parts of Mount Aspiring National Park had ‘traditional’ grazing rights which go back to the establishment of the park, when some valley floors were surrendered from leases for inclusion in the park on the understanding that grazing would continue under permit. For some years the Crown has been negotiating surrender of many of these permits and this is the last of the grazing permits in the National Park on the Otago side.

“The removal of cattle will protect the ecologically important beech forest edges and the native grassland communities. The use of the Dart Valley for tramping has increased greatly and people these days do not expect to encounter cattle and impacts they cause within a National Park.”

"The Dart Valley is one of the classic tramping routes of the South Island. No-one who emerges from the forest at either end of Cattle Flat can fail to be impressed by the vista which opens up: forest fringed grassy slopes and terraces stretching along the valley, snowy peaks and glaciers, and the Dart River catching the light the length of the valley, " Ms Lee said. "It is a special and precious place.”

Ends

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