Park Farming Defended

 

QE Park, from Poplar Avenue looking south. The left side of photo shows manuka and native regrowth. Over the fence on the right side, grassland is only possible through drainage, spraying and grazing.

Regional Council replies to KIN stories about farming threat to QE Park

The Greater Wellington Regional  Council (GWRC) says it wants to put the record straight about two recent KIN stories on farming in Queen Elizabeth Park.

Amanda Cox, GWRC Parks Manager, says: “The Kapiti Independent has recently published a story about Queen Elizabeth Park suggesting that, somehow, its licensee farmer is exploiting the park at the public’s expense.

“The facts are that annually GWRC receives just under $85,000 in licence revenue from farming, which helps offset the $450,000 annual direct cost of running the park.”

Farming pays 20% of park costs

Family group enjoys a break in one of the man picnic areas in the Park. This site is close to a beautiful swimming beach.

Ms Cox says: “Nearly 20 per cent of the  cost of running the park is therefore borne by farming, not the regional ratepayer.

Map showing full extent of QE Park

“GWRC makes no “profit” from farming; this income goes towards the upkeep of the park. Without it there would be less planting of native bush, less environmental restoration and less general maintenance of the kind that makes QEP such a wonderful place.”

Not a case of park v. farming

Ms Cox goes on to say that this isn’t a case of park versus farming as has been portrayed; if the GWRC left the land to its own devices it would quickly become covered with  ‘an unsightly blanket of gorse, lupin, blackberry and other undesirable pest plants.’

She says: “It’s a fiction to believe that “with a little assistance from community planting of indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses” nature would run its course.

“Queen Elizabeth Park has almost no native seed source. Creating a native bush environment requires careful  management and ongoing commitment of funding and volunteers over years.

“We have decades of experience of working with great volunteers, but our resources are limited and we don’t have a volunteer army that is ready, willing and able to take such a task on even if the community wanted it.”

 GWRC understands community interest

She adds:

  • “We understand the community interest in and passion for restoring habitat for native flora and fauna.
  • “We have quietly continued to retire land from farming, since 2012 focusing on fencing off lengths of streams and tributaries, with a standard 10m buffer on each side introduced in the last two years.
  • We also have between 30-50 hectares already retired and awaiting restoration. To help speed up the process we have worked with local company Groundtruth over several years to investigate low-cost plant establishment techniques, co-funding trials of different methods on QEP.

Low cost but not no-cost

“This is low-cost compared to traditional methods but it is not no-cost,” says Amanda Cox.

“This exercise is paid for out of our $55,000 per annum budget for environmental restoration. Even so it’s slow going, with this budget we can only plant about five hectares per year. If we retired more land from the farm, fees from the farmer would reduce. It’s a straightforward calculation – less income, a lower restoration budget, less tree planting.

Review of Park Plan soon

“So we have to get real about our options. The choice we’ve made so far is to focus on how farming and the park can work together, as they have for many years.

“However, the review of the Parks Network Plan is coming up and through that process, we encourage the community to get involved and have your say on the future of Queen Elizabeth Park. The first opportunity to do that will be before Christmas this year.”