Buffer for Manganuioteao

19 Nov 2012

Forest & Bird member Derek Kelly has spearheaded a successful campaign to create a 500-metre buffer zone restricting development around the Tongariro World Heritage Area and National Park.

One of the major aims of the buffer zone to be created by the Ruapehu District Council is to better protect the river and stream network on the fringes of the park, such as the Manganuioteao River and its wildlife, including whio, brown kiwi and New Zealand falcons.

“They are all ground-nesting birds and, with greater housing development on the fringes of the national park, you get pests and domestic pets introduced, which put a lot of pressure on the native wildlife,” says Derek, who lives at Pökäkä near Öhakune.

Restrictions in the new buffer zone will limit the number of houses that can be built to much lower levels. There will also be more restrictions on quarrying, commercial forestry and installing utilities such as power pylons in the buffer zone.

In the past 15 years there has been a lot of development on the park’s edge. Housing density has increased after the minimum lot size for building a house was cut from 20 hectares to one hectare.

Derek started campaigning for a buffer zone in 2008 when a subdivision was approved without public notification on farm land adjoining both his property and the Manganuioteao River. With support from North Island Conservation Manager Mark Bellingham, he
has fought a long battle to ensure the environmental sensitivity of the area next to the World Heritage Area is recognised.

“The council has made a very sensible decision to put some rules in for the benefit of the park,” he says. Derek says the new rules should work well if DOC liaises with
landowners to protect nature on the edge of Tongariro.

“If DOC, regional councils and private landowners work more closely together, we can get better control of stoats, feral cats and possums. Co-operation, trust and
respect are the key to this initiative.”

Besides making pest control easier, the buffer zone will also help retain wildlife corridors linking the national park with nearby conservation areas.