Where have all the tussocks gone?

If you’re as casual about details as my farmer and I are and travel a route often you don’t necessarily register changes.

But for several months now every time we’ve gone over the Lindis Pass we’re sure that we’re seeing fewer tussocks.

The hills we remember being covered in gold are rapidly going bald.

This can’t be blamed on stock. The land was retired under the tenure review process and is now part of the conservation estate under DOC’s stewardship.

Is this a conincidence or the cause?

Could it be that the stock, rather than harming the tussock helped preserve it?

Did sheep and cattle graze species which compete with tussock and/or did their dung provide nutrients for the tussocks themselves or bugs which fostered tussocks and frustrated competitors?

Is something attacking the tussock?

Or are our memories faulty and were the hills never gold?

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4 Responses to Where have all the tussocks gone?

  1. JC says:

    Hmm, drought and a change in management patterns?

    Its not naturally tussock here but forest converted and held in grazing for 150 years.. it could well be reverting now the grazing pressure is off.

    Whats coming away between the tussock?

    JC

  2. fredinthegrass says:

    A common thread among people involved in the ‘management’ changes wrought by Land Tenure Review etc. is the potential to see tussock disappear. Talk to any high country farmer who fully understands the management of the areas where tussock is – now often was – prolific and they will tell you how sensitive the plant is. Grazing controlled species that threaten the tussock and carefully managing the stocking of these areas is vitally important for the long-term survival of “the gold over then thar hills”.
    Came over the Lindis just a few days ago and agree with your observations HP.

  3. One site I am familiar with, near Cromwell, is reverting from grassland to kanuka, following cessation of grazing and fire management.

  4. Russell Wallace says:

    I made the same comment to my wife 2 weeks ago as we passed through the Lindis.(easily the best drive in the South Island) What do the people from DOC have to say?

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