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Environmental Mismanagement On Lakes Station

Stock Trespass And Logging Plans Add To Environmental Mismanagement On Lakes Station


Another incidence of environmental mismanagement on Lakes Station in the heart of Lake Sumner Forest Park is an appalling way to mark Conservation Week, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society says.

Lakes Station is an enclave of pastoral lease and private land in Lake Sumner Forest Park. It is three quarters owned by Auckland businessman, Hugh Fletcher and Dame Sian Elias. Farm manager Ted Phipps is another owner.

¡§Lakes Station has recently destroyed more than 400 ha of matagouri shrubland, including some on conservation land. Today a member of the public has reported seeing cattle and sheep foraging and trampling in beech forest and on conservation land right up to Harper Pass while tramping last week. Stock are trespassing right up the Hurunui Valley, breaking through a fence between Lakes Station and conservation land,¡¨ Forest and Bird field officer, Eugenie Sage said.

¡§In beech forest, cattle browsing and trampling damage vegetation and stream banks, hinder regeneration, and contaminate streams. With 63% of New Zealand¡¦s land area having been converted to pasture at huge cost to our indigenous plants and wildlife, it is unacceptable for conservation lands and beech forest to be used for stock shelter and supplementary grazing.¡¨

¡§New Zealand¡¦s indigenous plants, animals and habitats are in serious trouble. Private landowners have a responsibility to help turn the tide and to improve the survival chances for kaka, parakeets, kiwi, and other threatened species. They can do this by protecting indigenous vegetation on their land, fencing out stock, and avoiding the sort of habitat destruction and degradation for which Lakes Station is becoming synonymous,¡¨ she said.

¡§Lakes Station¡¦s ongoing efforts to domesticate the dramatic wild landscapes of the Hurunui valley and lakes farmland are a tragedy for indigenous habitats and recreational users. Cattle are degrading the integrity of the beech forests, and distinctive shrublands are being converted to grassy paddocks which New Zealand already has in abundance.

¡§Recent environmental damage by Lakes Station includes:
„h aerial spraying and destruction of more than 400 ha of matagouri (a thorny shrub which is a Canterbury icon) on river flats in the north branch of the Hurunui River. Some of the matagouri was 150-200 years old and was probably pre European vegetation. Matagouri shrublands on conservation land have also been destroyed;
„h destruction of matagouri on a Ngai Tahu nohoanga site close to Lake Sumner/Hoka Kura;
„h plans to log an outstanding area of red and silver beech forest to provide timber for stock yards;
„h stock trespass into forests on conservation land in Lake Sumner Forest Park.¡¨

¡§The beech forest threatened by logging is probably Canterbury¡¦s most biologically important unprotected forest and the region¡¦s most extensive area of valley floor red and silver beech. Surveys have recorded 22 forest bird species including uncommon species such as kaka and parakeets. The forest is on the north branch of the Hurunui River, adjacent to the area of sprayed matagouri.¡¨

Ms Sage said ¡§Lakes Station obtained a non notified resource consent to log 19 trees from the Hurunui District Council earlier this year.¡¨

¡§Why Lakes Station is considering ransacking valuable beech forest to get timber for stock yards is inexplicable, given the strong association between the Fletcher name and plantation pine.¡¨


Ends

Note to media

1. Canterbury¡¦s Lake Sumner Forest Park is popular with trampers and the route from Lake Sumner over Harper Pass to the West Coast and down the Taramakau River is a classic tramping route and former pounamu (greenstone) trail.

2. Matagouri shrubland is New Zealand¡¦s only example of thorn woodland. Matagouri (or wild Irishman) is a distinctive feature of Canterbury¡¦s high country river valleys, generally growing close to water on river flats or fans. On Lakes Station the matagouri shrublands also contain Coprosma, native brooms and shrub wineberry.

Matagouri provides important bird and invertebrate habitat as well as contributing to landscape values.

On older matagouri plants, the dense growth of mosses, liverworts, fungi and lichen are important habitat for invertebrates. Parakeets feed on the fruits of matagouri and grey warblers nest in it.

Some farmers recognise the value of matagouri as stock shelter and a nitrogen fixer.


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