Funding has immediate impact in saving 148ha of forest

The Ōrāri Temuka Ōpihi Pareora Water Zone Committee paid a visit to 148ha of native forest they elected to contribute $21,000 of funding towards protecting forever.

The forest, near Geraldine, is favoured by kererū (wood pigeon) and korimako (bellbird) and is protected in perpetuity thanks to Environment Canterbury biodiversity funding and the QEII National Trust.

It is the third of three covenants, totalling 148ha of native forest put in place at Orari Gorge Station with the help of the Trust, landowners and the zone committee.

Inside the newly-protected zone are Kiwi native species tōtara, kowhai, and tī kōuka (cabbage trees).

Native birds kererū, rifleman, fantail and bellbirds can also be spotted in the area. It has low levels of exotic species, making it a prime candidate for protection.

A covenant put in place by the Trust is a partnership between independent charitable organisation, the QEII National Trust and landowners, who work together to protect natural and culturally important sites where native flora and fauna have the potential to regenerate naturally without the intrusion of stock or pests.

This is achieved by fencing off (usually with deer fences) the area, allowing it to regrow.

How did the funding come about?

QEII National Trust representative Rob Smith

QEII National Trust representative Rob Smith says the IMS funding contribution from the OTOP Zone Committee went a long way to protecting another 48ha of forest.

Orari Gorge Station landowners Robert and Alex Peacock, whose family, the Tripps , have owned the land for more than 160 years, were one of eight recipients of the OTOP committee’s decision to invest funding in projects in July.

Funding will go towards the high costs associated with more than 1600m of fencing to exclude stock and pests from the area. The full cost of the fencing is projected to be around $36,000.

QEII National Trust South Canterbury/North Otago regional representative Rob Smith said the result was a win-win-win for the Trust, landowners and the zone committee.

"It's great to see, because this way we've blocked off this parcel of land to regenerate naturally, and the landowners no longer have to worry about a bit of land they couldn't graze anyway.

"The funds from Environment Canterbury have made possible (the) protection of existing natural biodiversity. This is by far the most cost-efficient way of looking after biodiversity values in the region.

"QEII National Trust wishes to pass on its appreciation for the far-sighted application of funds from ECan to ensure these values are forever protected," Mr Smith said.

The fence-line will remain the Peacock's property and they will have to maintain it, while the land will be looked after by the Trust.

With a total of more than 4000ha (40 million metres squared) on the station, the Peacocks have now donated just under four per cent of that land into the covenant.

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Featured image: The Ōrāri Temuka Ōpihi Pareora Water Zone Committee paid a visit to the Orari Gorge Station recently to check on recent Immediate Steps funding projects.