Farmers making impact on biodiversity

by Anonymous Author

A new study on Queen Elizabeth II National Trust covenants has highlighted the contribution sheep and beef farmers are making to New Zealand’s biodiversity and landscape protection.

The study by the University of Waikato Institute for Business Research quantifies the financial commitment made by landowners who have protected around 180,000ha since the trust was established in 1977.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive, Sam McIvor said the report showed that two thirds of QEII covenants are on primary production land, with 47% of all covenants being on sheep and beef farms.

“Some farms have more than one covenant and many farmers open their covenants to the community, often partnering with schools and local community groups,” McIvor said. 

“While we knew farmers are deeply committed to preserving their land, it’s great to have this independent study that quantifies how that’s happening on farms.

“Last year 60% of the new covenants were on sheep and beef farms and the income forgone, or opportunity cost, is around $105,000 a covenant. This is where land had an alternative productive potential, but protecting it preserves its special values.”

Mr McIvor said the wider New Zealand community might not have seen the scale of the contribution that sheep and beef farmers were making to protect the significant biodiversity and landscape features on their farms. “This adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars, which is a significant commitment from the covenanters, especially when added to the costs of establishing a covenant and then maintaining it over the years,” Mr McIvor said. “Sheep and beef farmers have strong ties to their land and the species that call it home, and our extensive farm systems provide an environment in which biodiversity can thrive. “By making plans around the best use of our land, and using tools like QEII covenants, farmers can optimise production and underpin New Zealand’s unique biodiversity.”