Conservation is also extremely important to Drummond dairy farmers Graeme and Jan Appleby. The Councillors' Special Award Winners have had a lifetime interest in planting, but they do a lot more than just planting.
In 2012 the Appleby's purchased a block of land near their existing 199 hectare dairy farm. The block includes a 4.4 hectare peat bog which was initially covered in four metre high gorse and other weeds.
A peat bog is a special sort of wetland because it accumulates a lot of decomposing plant material, in the form of peat.
In addition to being great habitats for a range of plants and wildlife, peat bogs are the ultimate carbon store because the carbon from the decomposing plants is locked up in the bog for hundreds of years. Globally, peat stores twice as much carbon as forests which is one of the reasons why protecting our wetlands is so important.
After consultation with Department of Conservation, Environment Southland, and local iwi during the consent process, the Appleby’s began restoring the peat bog, which now has a QEII covenant.
“The best advice we got was to get rid of the gorse and other weeds to allow the bog to restore naturally, which is happening,” says Graeme.
“If we hadn’t done this, in 10 years’ time the whole area would have been covered and small plants smothered and lost.”
The bog is now home to a delightful variety of flora and fauna.
“It‘s wonderful to see the native orchids, especially Thelymitra cyanea. It’s one of only a few NZ blue-flowering orchids, which only flower for a very short period in January. Australasian bitterns feed in the area and it’s also frequented by bellbirds and tuis collecting nectar from the flowering eucalyptus cordiatas during the autumn and winter.
All up Graeme and Jan have fenced 16 kilometres of streams with buffers and riparian tree plantings. They say the planting is an ongoing project with more planned this year.