Benefits of
protecting your land

There are over 1,000 threatened native species in New Zealand, with some of our most threatened animal and plant species depending on private land. QEII National Trust covenants protect species including the nationally critical kakī or black stilt, the world’s rarest penguin the hoiho, and our rarest kiwi, the rowi.

Protecting private land via a QEII National Trust covenant is the most efficient and effective way to help protect the habitat of threatened animal and plant species.

Covenants are vital to protecting our heritage because:
of New Zealand is privately owned (approximately 19 million hectares) and threatened habitats occur mainly on the lowlands on private land, where even small remnants are important.

Private Land Protection
Has many benefits

New Zealand is considered a global biodiversity hotspot, with high levels of endemism (species which are only found in New Zealand). However only around a quarter of what was originally native forest remains, and at least 63 species of indigenous plants and animals are suffering loss of habitat. Additionally, threats like pest plants and animals are major causes of biodiversity decline in New Zealand.

Almost 70% of New Zealand is in private land ownership, so protecting biodiversity on private land is critical to reversing the decline of indigenous biodiversity.

A huge variety of different ecosystems are found on private land. QEII National Trust prioritises wetlands, sand dune systems, and indigenous lowland ecosystems, as these have suffered the biggest loss. Protecting these ecosystems on private land is vitally important for the future biodiversity of New Zealand.

Below is more information on why protecting these ecosystems when they occur on private land is so important.

Protecting wetlands on private land can help to control flooding, filter nutrients and sediments from watercourses and increase water storage reservoirs. Protected coastal wetlands can also help limit the effects of storm surges and extreme tidal events.

Fencing off and protecting wetlands prevents stock damage and provides habitat for a huge range of native plants, animals, and fish. With less than 10% of the pre-human extent of wetlands remaining in New Zealand, partnering to protect wetlands is a high priority for QEII National Trust.

You can find out more about wetlands from the National Wetland Trust of New Zealand.

Protecting and revegetating sand dunes on private land provides a buffer between the sea and productive land, provides places for coastal bird breeding, and protects vital habitat for native lizards.

Grazing, land development, and pest animals like rabbits have modified and degraded dune ecosystems, making protecting them a high priority for QEII National Trust.

You can find out more from the Coastal Restoration Trust of New Zealand.

Riparian margins which retain indigenous vegetation help prevent bank erosion and reduce nutrient and sediments entering watercourses. The wider and more vegetated the margin beside the watercourse, the larger the benefits.

A margin of 50 metres will reduce sediment by up to 90%, with nitrogen and phosphorus reduced by up to over 80%. Ten metre margins can still reduce sediment by over 80% and nutrients by up to 70%. Vegetated margins provide shade and places to breed for native freshwater fish.

Riparian marginal areas are often located on privately owned farmland, making protection in partnership with the QEII National Trust a key mechanism by which water quality can be improved, and these critical areas preserved.

Other environmental benefits of protecting private land include habitat protection for insect, birds, and lizards, shade for waterways improving native fish habitat, and carbon sequestration. Fencing can also prevent stock being bogged or separated in bush or wetland areas.

Protecting the greatest number and most varied types of bush blocks, particularly those where pest animal levels are low, is vitally important for our future biodiversity.

Large blocks usually support a greater number of species and are less vulnerable to extinction. However, small remnants of native vegetation are valuable as a seed source and stepping stone, and they provide food and safe breeding areas for wildlife.

Economic benefits of
protecting private land

A study by the University of Waikato Institute for Business Research has found that people who protect land with us are collectively spending an estimated $25 million of their own money (including the opportunity cost of not using the land in other ways) every year maintaining and enhancing their existing covenants. These landowners have made an estimated overall financial commitment of around $1.1 – $1.3 billion to establish and protect open space covenants.

The study also found that for every $1 of Government funding we receive, landowners have made a private financial commitment of $14.

Protecting private land
benefits us all

There are also many other wider benefits to protecting private land, including:

  • Preventing extinction of species by providing habitat for native species
  • Providing stock shelter and shade (on the other side of the fence)
  • Protecting archaeological, cultural heritage, or geological sites
  • Protecting scenic or amenity values
  • Providing recreational or educational activities, or eco-tourism
  • Providing opportunities for science, research, and education

Benefits to
Future Generations

Most open space covenants will exist in perpetuity. This ensures that the special features they protect will be there for future generations, despite changes in ownership or surrounding land use.