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Four new conservation reserves announced

Package of four new conservation reserves announced

A package of four new conservation reserves spanning over 1000 hectares throughout the country was announced by Conservation Minister Chris Carter today.

The reserves in Marlborough, Hawke's Bay, Auckland, and the West Coast are home to numerous native species, such as the kereru, the long-tailed bat, the shining cuckoo and ancient kauri.

"These areas were previously privately owned but they are now protected as public land for everyone. Families can freely access and enjoy the opportunities for recreation and education each of these unique environments offers," Mr Carter said.

"Creating new reserves is a major part of efforts by this government to save the habitats of over 2300 native New Zealand plants and animals that are threatened with extinction."

Mr Carter said all five areas had been acquired by the Nature Heritage Fund, a government funded body charged with protecting nature on private land.

The Fund had received an additional $6.7m in the past three years, enabling the new land to be purchased, he said.

The reserves include:

138 hectares of native forest in the southern Hunua Ranges near Auckland. The area contains stands of 200-year-old kauri, and 160-year-old tanekaha. It is a new addition to a continuous expanse of forest covering about 10,000 hectares that is home to tui, bellbirds, shining cuckoos and kereru. The land is also a valuable buffer between nearby farmland and Auckland's only mainland population of North Island kokako.

178 hectares of red-silver beech forest that will be added to the Lewis pass National Reserve in the Upper Maruia Valley on the West Coast. The endangered long-tailed bat is known to roost there, as well as other threatened species, such as yellow crowned kakariki, kaka, kea, falcon and kereru. The land is expected to be a candidate for addition to the Maruia/Waiau National Park.

650 hectares of indigenous forest on the Akitio River near Weber in the Southern Hawkes Bay. The area is one identified by scientists in 1993 as a Recommended Area for Protection. The forest is dominated by black beech but is also home to tawa, kowhai and lancewood.

437 hectares of indigenous forest in the Wairau River Valley in Marlborough. The land contains original beech and matai forest, scarce to the area. It is a habitat for threatened plants and native birds such as the kereru and falcon. The land also borders Boundary Creek an important habitat for native fish.

"By negotiating deals with the Nature Heritage Fund the private owners of these blocks of land have acted to preserve and protect native vegetation and wildlife for the benefit of future generations," Mr Carter said.

"I thank all those landowners for their foresight."

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