The Department of Conservation is consulting on the Molesworth Station management plan.
Molesworth is an iconic high-country station. It is owned by the public of New Zealand and managed by DOC on your behalf.
The Station became a recreation reserve in 2005. It has many values, including heritage, conservation, cultural and recreation.
Molesworth is currently managed as a working high-country station through a farming lease and grazing licence to Landcorp. The farming lease expires in 2020.
A management plan for Molesworth was approved in 2013. Its intention was to transition Molesworth from its traditional focus on farming to include more recreation and conservation activities.
The plan puts restrictions on public access in order to meet farming requirements. It may be necessary to manage recreational activity to protect conservation goals for natural, cultural and historic reasons, and to protect the recreational experience of other users.
DOC sees potential in working collaboratively with others on landscape-scale restoration in Molesworth. It is a biodiversity hotspot for a wide range of dryland animal and plant species. It also faces challenges from pests and significant weed problems such as wilding conifers. . .
We were on Molesworth a few years ago and horrified by the spread of wilding pines. The spread of hieracium was also a visible problem.
DOC wants people’s thoughts on
- how Molesworth is currently managed
- how you think the range of values on Molesworth should be managed into the future
- future opportunities or improvements to the way Molesworth is managed.
You’ll find the survey here.
Molesworth’s values include heritage, conservation, cultural and recreation.
Farming fits with heritage, conservation and cultural values and doesn’t have to exclude recreation. It also generates income, although that doesn’t mean it makes a profit for either Landcorp which leases the property, or DOC.
Profit, or loss, is something which isn’t addressed in the survey. What will implementing the plan for Molesworth cost and who will pay for it?
Recreation and conservation values are important but how much income, if any, will they generate?
Grazing helps curb weeds and farm staff can help control rabbits, possums and other pests which threaten native flora and fauna as part of their daily work.
If conservation and recreation replace farming, there won’t be an automatic return to nature as it was before the settlers came. Introduced weeds and pests will flourish with no stock and farm workers to control them.
The tussock has been disappearing from the top of the Lindis Pass since DOC took over the management land after the farm released it under tenure review. That is because hieracium is flourishing as fertility drops and no stock graze it before seed heads form. Without a comprehensive, and expensive, weed control plan, Molesworth will face a similar issue with introduced weeds.
Another potential problem is an increase in the risk of fire with growth uncontrolled by stock and more recreational visitors.
Molesworth is considered an iconic high country station.
Farming doesn’t have to be inconsistent with recreation and conservation.
Furthermore it could generate income to offset some of the costs, lessen the fire danger and contribute more to weed and pest control.