About 50ha of Catlins farmland had been set aside for the protection of the yellow-eyed penguin, the new Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick said yesterday at an unveiling ceremony at Long Point, just south of Owaka.
A joint project between the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust and the Department of Conservation, the commemorative planting of a rata tree and two hebe plants on the coastal cliffs marked the designation of the new reserve, which will include about 12km of coastline. The small ceremony was one of Ms Chadwick's first public appearances as the conservation minister.
"This has been my first unveiling and I can't think of a better place to start," she said, adding that it was impressive to see a group of people work towards finding a landowner to participate, and through co-operation with DOC, establish a safe haven "for the protection of a very vulnerable species".
The rata was planted with the help of the reserve land's previous owner Max Affleck _ who still owns 700 surrounding hectares _ and yellow-eyed Penguin Trust founding trustee Lala Frazer.
While the reserve was a joint ownership with DOC, the trust would be maintaining the land, which was a huge task, she said.
The long-term project will include predator trapping and the revegetation of an estimated 5 million plants.
The trust would be looking for funding for this, Ms Frazer said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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