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The long-term sustainability of summer grazing in high country tussock grasslands

Category: Sustainable land use
Download: Molloy_Brian.doc (33,280 Bytes)

Grazing in a culturally-induced landscape

This paper by Dr Brian Molloy, Research Associate, Landcare Research, Lincoln and High Country Representative, QEII National Trust, was presented to the High Country Heritage Forum on 1 June 2004.

Dr Molloy has had 55 years experience as a botanist working in the high country. When asked whether the continued grazing of tussock grasslands in the mid to high altitudes is sustainable, his answer is a qualified yes.

\"While I have complete confidence in the plants, I am somewhat apprehensive about how we manage them. I believe we can do much better than we have in the past to reduce or eliminate the tension points and hot spots that have arisen with excessive grazing. This may involve a re-think of the number and class of livestock used, and the frequency and duration of grazing; the judicious use of fertiliser and, where applicable, seed; and meaningful monitoring.

\"We must also remember that our traditional summer country supports an array of plant communities, both primary and secondary, and their associated fauna, with high conservation values and therefore worthy of serious consideration in the future management of this country.

\"Of one thing I am certain, some grazing will be better than no grazing, if we are to retain both the pastoral and conservation values of this country.\"

In his view, the tussock landscapes which people applaud, and the quest for tussock grassland parks, are a tribute to the stewardship of high country farmers, \"a stewardship I believe you should be allowed to continue, but with greater attention to a wider range of inherent values and their appropriate management.\"