Major addition to conservation park

Four parcels of conservation land that are now included in the Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Conservation Park make up the biggest addition to the park since it was created 17 years ago, Conservation Minister, Eugenie Sage announced today.

First proposed by Forest and Bird 25 years ago, the conservation park was created in 2001 and now spans 24,000 hectares after strategic purchases by the Nature Heritage Fund.

“The parcels now added are part of ongoing reclassification of stewardship land being undertaken by the Department of Conservation,” Eugenie Sage said.

“Putting these parcels of conservation land under the umbrella of conservation park status by adding them to the existing Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park unifies them and means they are no longer managed in isolation.

“The outstanding mountain and dryland landscapes of the Torlesse and Big Ben ranges, have been given further protection by becoming part of the Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Conservation Park,” Eugenie Sage said.

“The additions to the park of public conservation land totalling 3,282 hectares contain dry mountain ranges with beech forest and scree landscapes and important scree plant species.

“The additions include a large section of the western Torlesse Range dominated by rock outcrops and bluffs on the upper slopes with slim snow tussock grasslands and alpine plant communities.  The vision and work of the Nature Heritage Fund enabled this large area to become conservation land and now part of the park.

This area includes the western slopes of Castle Hill Peak, the distinctive notch in the Torlesse Range ridgeline known as The Gap, and other peaks which all overlook Kura Tāwhiti near Castle Hill Village.

This area of public conservation land was purchased by the Nature Heritage Fund in 2011 and is the largest addition to the conservation park since its creation.

“The new additions highlight the valuable role of the Nature Heritage Fund and its strategic purchases for conservation.

“Another 30 hectares of the eastern Big Ben Range, near Benmore Track has also been added. This is a small part of a regionally significant natural landscape with mountain beech and tussocklands just below Ben More peak”.

DOC manages the Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Conservation Park, protecting it for the benefit of New Zealanders and visitors.

“The amazing landscapes within the conservation park highlight the beauty of eastern drylands and the Canterbury high country. This is a special place for recreational visitors and a gateway to upper Waimakariri Basin.

Earlier this year more than 4800ha of stewardship land was added to the Ahuriri Conservation Park near Twizel, including the Ohau Moraines wetland complex purchased by the Nature Heritage Fund in 2008.