HBRIC Ltd pleased with conservation benefits
HBRIC Ltd pleased with conservation benefits of Land Exchange agreement
Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company Limited (HBRIC) is pleased it has reached a land exchange agreement with the Department of Conservation that provides significant enhancement to the conservation values of the Ruahine Forest Park and enables Central Hawke’s Bay farmers to benefit from irrigation.
The Department of Conservation has agreed to exchange 22 hectares of conservation land from the 90,000 hectare Ruahine Forest Park. The 22 hectares will be flooded by the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme reservoir. In return 170 hectares of Smedley Station will be incorporated into the park. This is land HBRIC Ltd has bought specifically for this purpose, subject to the project proceeding.
The block to be incorporated into the park includes indigenous vegetation, pasture and black beech forest and a rare wetland. It forms part of the Wakarara Range, which has different geology and great altitudinal range which supports ecosystems not present in the Ruahine Forest Park, such as naturally occurring dry west facing slops dominated by small-leaved broad leaf scrub.
DOC has run a very rigorous process including public submissions, and a public hearing on the proposed exchange. They also undertook their own comprehensive assessment of the land exchange values using ecologists from across New Zealand. The assessment found from an ecological and biological point of view the land exchange enhances the conservation values of land managed by DOC. The exchange is supported by the Hawke’s Bay and Wellington Conservation Boards and the Tamatea Taiwhenua and related hapu.
HBRIC Ltd Chief Executive Andrew Newman says the land exchange offers significant added conservation benefits to the area, over and above the offset mitigation package developed as part of the Ruataniwha Scheme proposal,
These include the exchange of an extra 24 hectares of wetland, referred to as the Donovan Gully area, which was highlighted in DOC’s assessment of the land exchange, additional Wilding Pine eradication within and adjacent to the exchange block and pest management work to enhance the habitat of the blue duck beyond the reservoir.
“These measures are seen as good stewardship for land being transferred,” says Mr Newman.
He says DOC has undertaken a thorough process, giving all parties ample opportunity to have their say.
“We see this as a win-win situation. The exchange has allowed for the development of the Ruataniwha Scheme reservoir, and at the same time given the area significant additional conservation benefits
“We are really keen to work constructively with community-based conservation groups here in Hawke’s Bay in delivering the wider environmental benefits that will arise from the Ruataniwha Scheme.”
Mr Newman says HBRIC Ltd is pleased to have the regulatory processes concluded. Work in other areas continues, including getting farmers to sign up to take water, investors to back the scheme and revalidating the cost of building the water storage scheme.