NEWS ARTICLES

14.05.09 04:55 Age: 9 yrs

Vandals and cattle destroying Mt Edenís flora

Category: Media

By: www.stuff.co.nz

Three years worth of volunteer work on Mt Eden has been destroyed thanks to vandals and a hungry herd of cows.

Photo: JASON OXENHAM

TRICKY TERRAIN: Friends of Maungawhau coordinator Jean Barton and volunteers remain positive despite devastation caused by cattle.

Friends of Maungawhau volunteer Kit Howden says a wire fence was cut last month, which allowed 12 yearling heffers to make a meal of whau and kawakawa plants.

"In 24 hours, three years worth of regeneration was depleted," he says. "It's devastating."

Mr Howden says while the fence was quickly repaired by grazing manager Peter Linton, when the cows are taken off the mountain this winter they shouldn't be allowed to return.

"They are four-legged lawnmowers. Native plants haven't evolved to exist with grazing animals."

Mr Linton holds a 50-year-old agreement to graze cattle on the mountain.

The summer sees a total of 24 cows grazing, while 12 are taken off in the autumn and the remaining 12 taken off in the winter.

He says vandalism on Mt Eden is a big problem.

"There's no rhyme or reason to it.

"They break water troughs, cut fences with pliers to let dogs through," he says.

"They've even tried to cut the chains that lock the gates."

Mr Linton manages cattle herds on six council-owned properties, but says during his 20-year career, humans appear to cause the greatest problems.

"If the cattle are managed correctly they do some damage, but not significantly more than people. Graffiti, broken beer bottles and rubbish.

"Vandalism is just part and parcel," he says.

Auckland City Council arts, community and recreation manager Ruth Stokes says workshops have recently taken place involving Mt Eden's vegetation management plan.

"Council is guided by the Maungawhau Mt Eden management plan, which provides for the longer term removal of the grazing stock."

She says officers are preparing a report for next month's arts, culture and recreation committee meeting, where the future of cattle grazing will be discussed.

Friends of Maungawhau volunteer coordinator Jean Barton says in the past four years volunteers have put in more than 3300 hours of labour on the mountain, replacing exotic plants with natives.

She says the recent setback has left the group undeterred.

"More volunteers are always welcome. Heritage is not only found in a national park or on a sanctuary island. It's found here in the city," she says.

"Nature is where we live and the convervation starts in our own back garden."

Friends of Maungawhau meets Tuesday at 9.30am on Batger Rd. For more information contact 630-7010.


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