Federated Farmers didn’t go so far as to call Forest and Bird’s suggestion that the government created a dryland bird park in the Mackenzie basin twitty, they had a much better idea.
Feds has invited F&B to go onto the open market and buy land for the park itself
“I’m taken aback by how misinformed Forest & Bird seem to be about High Country farming, conservation and tenure,” says Graham Reed, Federated Farmers High Country chairperson.
“By 2008, High Country farmers had voluntarily protected over 13,000 hectares in 42 QEII National Trust covenants around Central Otago, Waitaki, Queenstown-Lakes and the Mackenzie.
“I’m reliably told that Black Stilts are actually thriving with irrigation. Even if we put together all the irrigation we have or is planned, this comprises less than five percent of the Mackenzie.
“The landscape is already modified after 150 years of grazing. Without livestock, Forest & Bird won’t end up with a drylands park, but a park for rabbits, hieracium and wilding conifers.
“Yet I doubt many farmers would have an issue with Forest & Bird if it raised money from its supporters to buy High Country farms on the open market. Except Forest & Bird’s advocacy people expect the taxpayer and the State to do its bidding for it.
As many a farmer has discovered, buying the land is only the start of the expense and at least they have income to offset the expenditure.
We already have about half the South Island in conservation land and can’t afford to look after that properly. Even if the economy was in much better shape it would be reckless to add the expense of buying and maintaining yet more conservation land to the national accounts.
Instead of looking to the state, Forest and Bird should look to their own resources and work with landowners to protect habitats for birds.