Where has all the tussock gone?

A couple of years ago I asked where had the tussock gone?

There is even less tussock on the hills at the summit of the Lindis Pass now.

This land has been returned to the crown under tenure review and is managed by DOC.

The aim of the Lindis Pass Conservation Trust is to rid Lindis Pass Reserve of weeds, so that the snow tussock (Chionochloa rigida) can be enjoyed in its full glory. 

When it was farmed it was covered in tussock, now as these photos show it is not.

Is it an accident or deliberate?

Could the lack of stock and fertiliser have let hieracium and other weeds crowd out the tussock?

Does it mean that some of this sensitve land is really better farmed than not?

What’s going to save the hills from erosion by wind, rain and snow now the tussock cover has gone?

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8 Responses to Where has all the tussock gone?

  1. Meg says:

    I absolutely believe that the land is best managed under a farming system. it is often said that doc are the worst neighbors you can possibly have, with both plant and animal pest numbers often increasing under docs care until populations become a major problem and they decide that we better do something about it. While some of the work doc does us fantastic the conservation estate has become too large and difficult to manage. Inherent values can still be protected under a farming system. Often tussocks do far better when grazed and fertilized as long as they aren’t overgrazed. Perhaps freeholding with conservation covenants is the answer.

  2. robertguyton says:

    I’m reminded of a similar sight on the slopes of the Hokonui near Gore where all of the tussock disappeared in a very short space of time following a generous application of glyphosate by a farmer intent on ‘developing’ the tussock-covered slopes. I expect the soil he exposed that way is now down on the flat, as is traditional with this form of management.

  3. Gravedodger says:

    I hope you are sitting down Robert but the economic vandal of Akaroa is making tiny attempts to re-establish tussock on parts of his estate.
    Instead of using the post to bash the Hokonui farmer, how about a measured comment on the problem Ele alludes to, I am sure you have an opinion.

  4. robertguyton says:

    Ele’s not ‘bashing’ DOC, Gravedodger?
    The Hokonui ‘gentleman farmer’ btw, deserves a serve, imho.
    I’m disturbed to see the loss of tussock over the Lindis, if indeed that’s what the photo shows. I cycled over the pass many years ago, in the snow, and took beautiful photos of the (very old) fully tussocked scene. I’d like to read some more information on this issue. Ele writes:
    “The aim of the Lindis Pass Conservation Trust is to rid Lindis Pass Reserve of weeds, so that the snow tussock (Chionochloa rigida) can be enjoyed in its full glory.
    (This seems a laudable aim. We can’t criticise them for that.)

    When it was farmed it was covered in tussock, now as these photos show it is not.
    (Seemingly. I too wonder what has happened.)

    Is it an accident or deliberate?
    (I can’t fathom Ele’s meaning here. Is she suggesting that the Lindis Pass Conservation Trust killed the tussock on purpose???
    Or that they did it ‘accidentaly?? I’d appreciate your opinion about those two points, Gravedodger.

  5. robertguyton says:

    meant ‘very cold’

  6. If NZ had the resources to have journalists writing real stories for the newspapers (another story completely), perhaps someone could spend the time finding out what the case was here. Has the tussock been taken over by weeds? Does it miss the grazing? etc. some measurements of different paddocks (still grazed and no longer grazed) as I am sure DOC would have to measure this the same way it measures regenerating forest. If someone could prove that removing grazing was detrimental to the tussock, would DOC be prepared to return to grazing? One would ask what the tussock did before we arrived with our merinos. Perhaps it evolved over time to adapt to grazing and over time, will evolve back? Will it be too late?

  7. David Winter says:

    Kate,

    Don’t wait for journalists to do the reseach – look for yourself (1,2,3) DoC will almost certainly have a review of these papers somewhere…

    Native tussocks may have been adapted to foraging – but certainly not to grazing by mammals.

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