Monday 13th April, 2009Long Point in the Catlins is on a stunning stretch of the Otago coastline. The new area is complex, but together with existing DOC reserves will see a 12km strip of coastline protected. (Aerial photo below courtesy of the Otago Daily Times).
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The Trust and the Minister of Conservation's Nature Heritage Fund have jointly purchased this land as equal partners. The Trust has contributed its half through the support of its membership, and two significant pledges from the Community Trust of Otago and Dunedin Branch Forest & Bird. None of this would have been possible without the tremendous support (and then patience) shown by everyone as the negotiations took time to conclude. Rest assured we will do everything we can to protect and manage this coastline for future generations. The Trust has a long history in significant conservation achievements and we believe that between us, the Department of Conservation, the farmers and the local community, we will achieve many more significant conservation achievements on this stretch of the Catlins Coast.
Tuesday the 27 November 2007 was a very special day when the Minister of Conservation, the Hon Steve Chadwick publicly announced this land purchase to invited guests and the media. "This has been my first unveiling and I can't think of a better place to start", said the Minister, also adding that it was impressive to see a group of people work towards finding a landowner to participate, and through co-operation with DOC, establish a safe haven "for the protection of a very vulnerable species. We can't do it all on our own. We need community trusts like this one. What a vision they had 20 years ago. It's a great partnership," Ms Chadwick said.
The day was shared by a gathering of YEPT trustees and staff, DOC staff, Clutha District Council reps including Mayor Juno Hayes, the farmers, the press (radio, television and print reps), and YEPT invited supporters.
What a day to remember for us all - at times we basked in sunshine, and at others the Minister was trying to speak while hail blew the words out of her mouth! The penguins (viewed discreetly from a distance) performed on cue - swimming, basking in the weather, sitting on nests, and a juvenile yellow-eyed penguin stood and watched us curiously as we tried to get good views of it.
A nest search just completed in early November 2007 confirmed that the area purchased contains over 48 pairs of breeding yellow-eyed penguins. This represents more than 10% of the entire population of penguins on mainland New Zealand (2011 ~422 pairs).
This coastal jewel has significant natural values as well as being a prime penguin nesting habitat. It also supports NZ fur seals, NZ sea lions, numerous seabird species, rare coastal plant communities, small remnants of native forest, and an archaeological site.