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Southern peatland protected

24 July 2002 Media Statement

Southern peatland protected

One of the last strongholds of several native plant communities unique to Southland, a 60 hectare peatland property at Dunearn, has been purchased by the Nature Heritage Fund, Conservation Minister Sandra Lee announced today.

She said the property, which is located at the foot of the Taringatua Hills near Winton, was identified in the Southland Ecological District Protected Natural Areas Plant Programme as an area of "special ecological value".

Ms Lee said the peatland property was a remnant of a much larger area of raised peat dome. She said such areas were once a feature of the Southland plains before early 19th century large scale land clearance and agricultural development.
The Conservation Minister said less than half of these areas remained undeveloped, and most have now been modified by drainage or by fire.

"The Dunearn area was recently purchased by a farmer for conversion to farmland but when he was told of the ecological significance of the 60 hectares, he agreed to sell the property for protection," Ms Lee said.

"I commend the farmer for his public-spirited actions," she said. "The recent increase in rural land values in Southland and the dramatic intensification of large scale dairy operations has put development pressure on remaining peatlands."

Ms Lee said the protected peatland would be managed by the Department of Conservation.

ENDS

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