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Molesworth Deserves Conservation Management

September 16, 2003 – Wellington


MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Molesworth Deserves Conservation Management

Transferring the management of Molesworth Station from LINZ to the Department of Conservation (DoC) would have major benefits for conservation and public recreation, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society says.

“It would open up Molesworth’s sweeping and spectacular open landscapes for public enjoyment, protect its unusual dryland plant communities, and enable greater public involvement in Molesworth’s management,” Forest and Bird field officer, Eugenie Sage said.

“Molesworth is much more than New Zealand’s largest cattle farm. It is a wonderful area for back-country recreation such as tramping, walking, mountain biking, fishing, photography, and kayaking.

“Despite it being Crown land, public access to the 186,000 ha Molesworth station is restricted to a short summer season for the Molesworth road from the Awatere valley to Hanmer, and a small area on the western fringes of the property near the Tophouse/Rainbow road. Going anywhere else requires specific permission.

“DoC’s management of farm parks, such as Puponga in Golden Bay and Te Paki and Mimiwhangata in Northland for farming, conservation and recreation, is an appropriate model for managing those parts of Molesworth suitable for continued grazing,” she said.

“Marlborough is one of New Zealand’s five key centres of biodiversity and endemism. It has around 50 species of endemic flowering plants, 40 % of which are found on Molesworth. The property supports 12 nationally rare plant species as well as a diverse lizard fauna including the nationally threatened scree skink.

“The Conservation Act 1987 would be a much better basis for managing Molesworth than the outdated 1948 Land Act with its narrow emphasis on pastoral farming and no recognition of sustainable land management or ecological principles.

“Transfer to DoC would enable much greater public involvement in Molesworth’s future than occurs under LINZ where the public is shut out,” Ms Sage said.

“The Molesworth Steering Committee meets in secret and has no community representatives, unlike conservation boards. LINZ allows commercial recreation on Molesworth with no chance for public comment, unlike DoC’s concession system.

“LINZ has not held any hearings on public submissions on its review of Molesworth management strategy. Public hearings of submissions are the norm when DoC prepares management plans,” she said.

“DoC management and greater emphasis on the protection of conservation, recreation and landscape values on Molesworth would also help implement the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy.”

Ends

Contact: Eugenie Sage ph (03) 3666 317 (wk) or 942 1251 (hm)

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