Over 100 Canterbury landowners who protect natural features with QEII covenants were recognised for their generosity by Sir Brian Lochore on 18 November at High Peak Station in the Windwhistle/ Lake Coleridge area.
Settled in 1856 and owned by the Guild family since 1973, High Peak Station is a 3,676ha high country farm and private game estate in the Malvern foothills running 3,800 deer, 6,000 sheep, 550 cattle and 1,100 game animals.
The covenantors along with representatives from Environment Canterbury, Selwyn and Hurunui District Councils, Fish & Game and the Department of Conservation, were invited to High Peak for lunch with QEII directors and staff and for a walk through the 94ha covenant that has protected a braided shingle riverbed, sedgeland, tussockland and shrubland on the station since 1996.
Right: At High Peak Station, QEII Chairperson, Sir Brian Lochore, along with Miles Giller, QEII North Canterbury Regional Representative, thanked Canterbury covenantors for their generosity and contributions to protecting New Zealand’s natural heritage for future generations.
Sir Brian said in his time with QEII he has been fortunate to meet many generous people who have protected New Zealand’s natural and cultural features with covenants.
‘A QEII covenant is a voluntary protection agreement but once in place it protects the area forever,’ he said.
‘Covenantors like James and Anna Guild are typical of the landowners who look after their land for future generations.
‘Those who care about our natural heritage are continuing to approach QEII. Even with the current recession, we’ve had more new covenants registered this year than ever before.’
Above: Among those who gathered at High Peak Station to meet Sir Brian Lochore and other QEII directors, were covenantors John and Rosalie Wardle and Stephen Hall, Environment Canterbury Programme Manager Pests and Biodiversity.
Above: James Guild explained how the area protected with a 94ha covenant on High Peak Station is run to enhance conservation values along with farm production.
‘The covenant is in a glacial valley with terminal moraine,’ James said. ‘When the family took over the farm, gorse two to three metres high covered the valley.
'We now have a weed control programme in place to manage gorse and broom and allow the native vegetation to come through.
‘The flats along the Selwyn River are valuable assets in the farm production system, particularly for lambing. Light grazing helps to control exotic grasses and we make sure that stock don’t damage the banks.
'The covenant management plan is a highly pragmatic way of conserving the natural vegetation.’
Miles Giller, QEII North Canterbury Regional Representative, said forest remnants, manuka and kanuka shrublands, tussock grasslands and geological outcrops are just some of the features protected in the region with covenants.
‘We have over 250 registered and approved covenants protecting a total of 13,600 hectares. A characteristic of Canterbury is that every covenant has different values. While each is a vignette, together they form a montage of protected natural and cultural values.
‘The protected area on High Peak Station is a “classic” open space covenant with significant ecological and visual values.
'It is a wonderful example of why QEII was established and a testament to the vision of those who drafted the open space protection legislation.’
Above: QEII covenantors and other guests took the opportunity to tour High Peak Station.
Above: James Guild described the features of the 94ha covenant that protects the headwaters of the Selwyn River.
Miles explained how the nature of the protected vegetation reflects the underlying geological features and climatic patterns of the area.
‘Coprosma and matagouri grey scrub along with Muehlenbeckia ephedroides and the nationally threatened Olearia lineata cover the sunny north-facing greywacke hillside,’ he said.
‘Sedgeland and red tussock grassland with scattered larger matagouri feature on the outwash gravels and river flats of the valley floor.
‘Then on the glacial outwash and loess on the cooler moister side of the valley, the characteristic shrubland includes Olearia bullata and the native broom Carmichaelia torulosa.
‘Along with the varied flora, skinks, geckos and a wide array of birdlife help to enhance the ecological and visual values of this stunning covenant.’
Above: On a walk through the covenant, guests enjoyed a close at hand view of the protected tussock and grey scrub species.
Above: Matagouri is a spiny grey shrub with small glossy green leaves and scented white flowers. Shrubs like this provide protection for lizards.
For more about High Peak Station ....
Published 26 November 2009