Sheep and beef farmers make biodiversity contribution through QE11 covenants

Sam McIvor
Sam McIvor.

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are making a significant contribution to New Zealand’s  biodiversity and landscape protection, a new study on Queen Elizabeth 11 National Trust covenants has highlighted.

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

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ Ltd) chief executive, Sam McIvor says the report showed that two thirds of QEII covenants are on primary production land, with 47 percent 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.

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

McIvor says the wider New Zealand community might not have seen the scale of the contribution that sheep and beef farmers were making to protect – in perpetuity – 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, says McIvor.

“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.”

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