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Biodiversity Protection On Farms Boosted By New Partnership

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has joined forces with the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust (QEII) to provide landowners with financial incentives and on-farm support to protect and enhance areas with biodiversity values on their farms.

The Regional Council and QEII signed a memorandum of understanding, effective from July 1 this year, to work together and offer funding to landowners to establish covenants to enhance and support healthy ecosystems in Hawke’s Bay.

The covenant programme will provide funding for retirement fencing for new covenant areas with biodiversity values and some support for activities in covenants such as planting and pest plant and animal control. The main focus will be on deer fencing due to the significant impact feral deer are having on native bush remnants across the region.

A covenant is an agreement between QEII and a landowner to protect land forever. The landowner continues to own and manage the protected land, and protection stays on the land, even when the property is sold to a new owner.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council chief executive James Palmer says he was pleased to partner with QEII, who share the same values and aspirations as the Regional Council, to develop healthy ecosystems in the region.

"We look forward to seeing this programme turn into action on the farm and working together to protect our most at-risk natural areas. Carrying out pest plant control work is the key to long term ecosystem survival," he said.

Under the programme the Regional Council will continue to support landowners to control possum numbers on covenanted land.

Queen Elizabeth II National Trust chief executive Dan Coup says that the programme will provide a boost for biodiversity protection in the region and ensure those areas are protected forever.

“Almost 70% of New Zealand is in private land ownership, so there are many wonderful opportunities for private landowners, especially farmers, to make a difference in conserving rare species and habitats,” he said.

“Areas protected by a QEII open space covenant are protected in perpetuity, so not only does this programme provide an increased financial incentive to landowners to protect their special areas, it also ensures the Regional Council’s investment in protecting this biodiversity is secured for the future.

The robust legal protection afforded by a QEII covenant ensures these special areas will be there for future generations, despite changes in ownership or surrounding land use.”

Landowners with covenants can apply to QEII’s contestable fund – The Stephenson Fund – for funding towards biodiversity enhancement and stewardship work.

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