Mackenzie plan 'needs Govt funding'

19:18, May 13 2013

A vision to preserve the iconic MacKenzie Country landscape needs Government funding and legislation to make it happen, say the authors of the plan.

The Mackenzie Sustainable Futures Trust vision document was released on Sunday after three years of discussion between farmers, ecologists, landscape architects and landowners.

The vision includes a plan to pay farmers to set aside land for conservation, while freeing up 25,000 hectares for irrigation.

It would cost about $3.7 million a year to manage and preserve 100,000ha of ecologically sensitive land in Mackenzie, Omarama and Ohau basins.

The land would be managed through joint ventures between farmers, landowners, government and local authorities.

John Murray, who farms merino sheep and cattle on 8000ha of land near Lake Tekapo, helped create the plan and believes it needs Government help. "We are pretty happy with the plan," he said. "It is a package deal and the setting up of the trust and setting up the programme will require outside money."

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Landscape architect Di Lucas, who was involved in the project, said Government action was now needed. "It has to have Government buy-in with legislation and quite substantial funding."

Federated Farmers vice-president William Rolleston also said funding was needed to make the plan happen.

"The Mackenzie agreement now needs a package of legislative change and funding," Rolleston said.

"While we have recognition that the Mackenzie is a working evolving rural landscape, there is wider recognition that the cost and benefits of conservation are for all, so needs to be shared by all."

Forest and Bird field officer Jen Miller said the plan could help preserve the iconic Mackenzie landscape.

"This is an agreement reached by a very diverse group of people. It is a good recommendation and it could offer some solutions to protect important values on the Mackenzie. It took us a long time to get to this compromise and it is really important that the Government comes to the party."

A spokeswoman for Conservation Minister Nick Smith said it would take time to respond to the document.

The Press