A three-year project to protect a vast stand of North Taranaki native bush is nearing its end.
A Queen Elizabeth II National Trust covenant has been established over the 720-hectare stand of bush to become the trust's largest Taranaki project.
More than $300,000 has been spent by farmer Lew Newton, in partnership with the trust, the Department of Conservation, its biodiversity condition fund and the New Plymouth District Council.
Twenty kilometres of fencing have been put in around the vast tract of native bush on the rugged, 2000ha Rerekino Station, 15 kilometres up the Uruti Valley.
Mr Newton has established a QEII covenant over 450ha of bush on Rerekino Station, bought in 1952 by his father, the late Harold Newton, and which he took over in 1989.
A covenant has also been established on a 270ha stand of bush on a neighbouring property.
The project required extensive earthworks and Mr Newton estimated that it involved 3500 hours on a digger.
The trust's Taranaki representative Neil Phillips said the project was a win-win because the fencing protected the bush from stock damage and improved the management and productivity of the farm.
Wide laneways across the farm created space for stock, reducing the potential for damage and providing easy access for maintenance of the fence. Mr Phillips said funding assistance was essential for landowners because they were unlikely to finance such a large a project alone.
The funding system for the project was now being developed as a blueprint for use by more than 20 regions within the trust.
Mr Newton said fencing the bush had improved productivity because it had allowed him to intensify the development of contoured land and to make better use of the flat land on Rerekino Station.
"It's showing in our profits already. Cows can calve beside the bush, which gives them shelter, instead of getting lost in it.
"And the farm's easier to muster - there are no waifs and strays afterwards. The management of the property is much easier."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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