Local landowners look to QEII trust

Part of the shoreline of the Natusch family covenant, protects coastal turfs and rimu-rata-hardwood coastal forest in Patterson Inlet, Stewart Island. Photo: Supplied

QUEEN Elizabeth II (QEII) National Trust staff members are under the pump but are seeing good demand from private landowners to better protect their land, a representative says.

The trust is a charity organisation which was formed in 1976 by a group of farmers.

It focused on partnering with private landowners who wanted to preserve their land and better enhance their ecological values.

There was more than 3 million hectares of land in Southland with half being public conservation land.

QEII regional representative Jesse Bythell said there were about 13,029ha of private land which were protected with QEII covenants in Southland.

“There has been a strong increase in interest to legally protect private land over the last couple of years from owners nationally and in Southland.”

The organisation provided covenants which offered landowners legal and physical protection.

Staff members worked alongside the owners to set up a legal document (covenant) with obligations to preserve their land.

There were diverse types of ecosystems in Southland which the organisation helped to preserve, consisting of wetlands, forest, shrublands and tussock lands.

The organisation recently received a Jobs For Nature $4 million funding boost from the Government as well as private donations to meet the needs of the demand for more covenants.

“Generally we can register 120 protected covenants over the year but now this money will allow us to get 50% above that.”

This meant an added 60 covenants per annum during the next five years.

“This is pretty significant for us.”

QEII contributed 50% towards any fencing which was needed for a newly protected covenant area.

It was important to protect the biodiversity and heritage of land to stop the decline of the ecosystem and to preserve unique native plants and animals, she said.

The trust could also help owners with a range of acts which included physically protecting areas with stock-proof fences, support to apply for external funding to manage pests and weeds and advice to landowners about how to care for their protected area.

One of the key things to understand about protection was it was volunteered by the owners and remained within their ownership, she said.

The protection remains on the title and any new owners are also bound by covenant obligations.

“None of the land gets given to the QEII.”