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Forest & Bird calls for Mackenzie drylands park

Mackenzie
Basin

29 July 2010 – Wellington
Forest & Bird media release for immediate use

Forest & Bird calls for Mackenzie drylands park

Independent conservation organisation Forest & Bird welcomes the announcement by the Environmental Defence Society today that it has won a High Court case challenging intensive dairy farming in the Mackenzie Basin.

Forest & Bird is calling on the Government to step up protection of the Mackenzie’s threatened plants and animals and iconic landscapes with a drylands conservation park.

“Threats to the Mackenzie Country aren’t just about cubicle farming,” Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Nicola Vallance says. “We want the Government to come up with a national strategy to protect this special wild landscape that belongs to all New Zealanders.”

According to Official Information Act details Forest & Bird obtained earlier this year, the Government plans to freehold more than 31,000 hectares of publicly owned land in the Mackenzie Basin.

Currently, leaseholders of Crown pastoral leases can graze sheep and beef cattle on publicly owned land. If the land is freeholded there will be little restraint on what they do, Ms Vallance says.

Why the Mackenzie Country is so special:
• It is home to 68 species of threatened and rare plants (and 40 per cent of Canterbury’s threatened plants are found there).
• The world’s rarest wading bird – the endangered black stilt or kaki – is found only in the Mackenzie Country, along with eight other threatened species of birds.
• High country tourism is worth $4 billion a year to the New Zealand economy.

ENDS

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