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Te Papanui delivering $136m worth of water

Te Papanui delivering $136m worth of water

Te Papanui Conservation Park is providing the Otago region with water for free that would cost an estimated $136m to get from elsewhere, a new economic study has found.

The study, The Economic Benefits of Water in Te Papanui Conservation Park, was prepared by Butcher Partners and launched today by Conservation Minister Chris Carter. It is the third in a series of studies commissioned by the Department of Conservation (DOC) to improve understanding of the economic value derived from natural areas.

"Te Papanui is a spectacular park, comprising 22,000 ha of tussock plains on the Lammermoor Range in Central Otago," Mr Carter said.

"Since the park's formation there has been no commercial production occurring on it, and because of this people are fond of dismissing conservation areas like Te Papanui as economically useless. What this new study shows is this is not the case. There is a considerable financial benefit to the local area from keeping the park in a pristine natural state."

The study has found that because of the unique characteristics of the tussocks in Te Papanui, it acts as a natural water catchment for Otago that would cost an estimated $136 million to obtain from somewhere else. The value of the park's contribution to Dunedin's water supply is estimated at $93m. The value of the water supplied for hydroelectricity is estimated at $31m, and the value of irrigation the park provides for 60,000 ha of Taieri farmland is $12m.

"Previous economic studies commissioned by DOC have explored the value of economic activity, such as tourism operations, either on conservation land or dependent upon it," Mr Carter said.

"The Te Papanui study is significant because it is the first to explore the value of natural services derived directly from a particular environment in its natural state.

"It is very easy to take for granted what nature provides for free, but there are considerable risks for many communities in New Zealand if we do so," Mr Carter said.

"This study is a reminder that our natural environment is critical to intelligent economic growth. In many cases, the continued ability of nature to provide services like those of Te Papanui depends on our protection of important natural areas," Mr Carter said.

A copy of the report can be found on the DOC web site, www.doc.govt.nz


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