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Gibraltar Farm And Crater Rim Reserves Secured

Conservation Minister Nick Smith today announced grants of $90,000 and $30.000 from the Nature Heritage Fund for the purchase of two bush remnants on the Port Hills. The Nature Heritage Fund contributions complement similar contributions from Christchurch City Council and Selwyn District Council in securing the long-term future of forest remnants on the Port Hills east of Taitapu

"The Christchurch City Council, the Selwyn District Council and the community trusts involved in these purchases have done a fantastic job with their co-operative approach to conservation. We need this sort of approach that traverses any patch protection and deals with a common goal and gets results. The secure protection of these remnants represents a turning point that will preserve and enhance a permanent asset for the people of Canterbury."

The Wai Ora Trust has been the catalyst to the involvement of the Nature Heritage Fund in the Gibraltar Farm purchase of 117 hectares of lowland Podocarp forest. The Christchurch City Council and the Selwyn District Council contributed equally to the purchase to secure the bush for a restoration project that will preserve the remnant forest and eventually see some areas currently in rough pasture, planted to provide buffer zones for the main forest.

"Some of these ancient remnants may have been here when the first humans were in New Zealand and it’s ironic that there are probably more oak trees in Hagley Park than there are totara trees in this reserve! The threat of severe predation from goats, possums, deer and livestock is one thing but with increasing pressure from lifestyle blocks and forestry blocks, we have a responsibility to secure these remnants as sustainable examples of the vegetation that once cloaked the area. They are invaluable as seed sources for future re-vegetation projects."

The second block of 52 hectares is on the summit ridge of the Port Hills. The Crater Rim Project is an exciting concept that proposes to link a series of reserves throughout the Port Hills in a network of natural vegetation that will sustain native wildlife along the ridgeline. Turning Point 2000 Trust have pursued a vigorous ‘purchase for protection’ programme which has seen a successful bid to the Nature Heritage Fund to secure the Cass Peak Summit and the Living Springs property as part of this network. The Christchurch City Council has been fully supportive of the initiative.

"It is great that networks in the community are supporting each other to get natural areas linked along the Port Hills. The Government is keen to commit to these types of initiatives and the Nature Heritage Fund provides an ideal source for projects that promote sound management practices in native vegetation. New Zealand’s natural identity doesn’t lie in a facsimile of the English countryside and I applaud efforts to restore the natural vegetation to these volcanic Canterbury icons. These areas are of high scenic, environmental and recreational importance and with increasing numbers of people utilising the Port Hills, we must safeguard natural areas for everyone’s enjoyment." ENDS

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