Future of Staveley bush protected

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Donna Field, Rev Barry Ayers from Alpine Presbytery, Barry Marett and James Guild with the new covenant sign.

By Mick Jensen

A Queen Elizabeth II National Trust covenant has been placed on a 10ha patch of native bush at the Staveley Camp Site, protecting the area for future generations to enjoy.

The 12ha camp site, which features cabins, camping areas and on site facilities like a kitchen, sits on the edge of an expansive area of thick native forest, and is administered by a local committee.

The site has been a big drawcard for scouts and school and community groups over many years and is considered a community gem.

Camp site committee members, local conservationists and others with an interest in the area gathered last week at the camp to celebrate the new QE II National Trust open space covenant.

Staveley Camp Site Committee vice chair Barry Marett said the need for a bush covenant had first been talked about in 2012.

Discussions with the Alpine Presbytery, which owned the site, began two years later and finally the covenant had been put in place after “a long drawn out process”.

A lot of people had been involved in weed control and predator work over the years to enhance the area and there had been biodiversity and other support from the likes of Environment Canterbury, Ashburton council, local landowners and others, he said.

Queen Elizabeth II National Trust chair James Guild told the gathering of around 65 that the trust was celebrating its 40th anniversary year and it was pleasure to be in Staveley for another “celebration of conservation”.

He said the trust had been set up to encourage and promote the provision, protection, preservation and enhancement of open space for New Zealand.

It did that by partnering with landowners.

The QE11 National Trust currently has 4358 registered covenants covering 168,925ha.

Trust Central Canterbury regional representative Alice Shanks said the Staveley covenant “offered legal protection” over a local gem.

The covenant had been achieved through positive community collaboration.

The first covenant in Mid Canterbury had been placed in 1979 and there were currently 17 registered covenants, three landscape protection agreements, four approved covenants and one inquiry in the works, said Mrs Shanks.

“There is not much left on the Plains after 140 years of farming development and it would be easy to overlook the small remnants that are left in the corners of farms.

“Instead these farmers are recognising their importance and securing permanent protection through the QEII National Trust.”

Others guests at the Staveley celebration included Ashburton mayor Donna Favel, Queen Elizabeth II National Trust board member and Rakaia Gorge farmer Donna Field and local landowners with covenants in place.

in Ashburton district have protected:

– The last known patch of at-risk swamp nettle in the district.

– The largest population of the yet-to-be named rare Hinds porcupine shrub.

– The largest population of at-risk yellow beech mistletoe in the district.

– A nationally critical wetland rush, with only half a dozen known sites.

– The last known manuka plant on the Low Plains.

– Plains kanuka, once common and now confined to no more than 12 patches throughout Canterbury.

– Rare occurrences of small herbs that only grow on limestone.

– The last known site on the Ashburton Plains of Maori onion, a yellow-flowering lily.

– The last two ribbonwood trees known on the Ashburton Plains

– Habitat for the rare wetland birds marsh crake and Australasian bittern

– A rare example of Plains kahikatea swamp forest.