Being located in an area of acknowledged natural beauty, it is inevitable that managing of Glen Dene goes hand in hand with exercising strong environmental values. For Glen Dene it is important that the farm continues to implement production efficiencies, sensitive development and improve and sustain returns. With support, encouragement and financial stability Glen Dene Station will be in a position of re-investing in its success by continued careful management of its major assets, the land and \the environment it farms in.
Glen Dene is an environmentally conscious company and aim to provide an eco-friendly balance between present land usage and tourism. We will take responsibility for our actions and the actions of our clients to ensure sustainability of the natural resources available to us.
Glen Dene Receive Qualmark Gold Enviro Award
Glen Dene Station on the shores of Lake Hawea has recently been awarded the Qualmark Gold Enviro certification. Judged across a number of criteria Glen Dene is only the second high country station running a tourism operation in New Zealand to receive the national tourism body’s highest grading.
Glen Dene Station owners, Richard and Sarah Burdon have been working hard to develop the potential for the property since undergoing tenure review in 2007. "Successfully blending farming, recreation and conservation is key to a sustainable future for us," Richard said. The couple farm and manage hunting and fishing operation on a 5974 ha (15,000 acre) high country sheep, beef and deer farm located beside the two worlds Heritage parks of Mt Aspiring and Te Wahipounamu.
Glen Dene won the Ballance farm environment award in 2009 and since then Richard and Sarah Burdon have focussed on consistency across all aspects of their operation. Following the Ballance award, Richard and Sarah's efforts were recognised with a Ministry of Agriculture scholarship to complete an executive development program with Rabobank in Sydney.
Employing noted ecologists Professor David Norton and Peter Espie, ongoing surveys of vegetation in conjunction with the Department of Conservation, water quality monitoring and the health and of the population of deer and chamois give the Burdon's in-depth technical data on the property.
The Gold Enviro award means the Burdon’s have demonstrated to Qualmark their operation “Exceeds the highest levels of environmental and social responsibilities. Represents strong leadership and advocacy.” In a sustainable land management report produced by the Burdon’s recently a number of key initiatives were outlined for their operation:
Consideration of land based on land use capability
Tenure review and the resulting outcome in 2007 was a fundamental driver in the process of considering the land according to its capability for long-term production, based on its physical limitations and site-specific management needs, to promote sustainable land management. It resulted primarily in 2194 ha of Class VII and VIII land being retired due to limitations of extreme potential erosion, very steep slopes combined with severe climatic and soil fertility limitations. It was deemed that this land was more suited to erosion control, water catchment management and conservation of flora and fauna. A further 2000 ha of Class VII and VIII land was freeholded subject to conservation covenant.
This meant a change in farming away from the traditional practice of running merino wethers in this country for 9-10 months of the year, to the current management where ewes are run in the native tussock grassland for only three months in the summer.
Land Management Units
Glen Dene has been classified into land management units (LMUs) based on land use capability (LUC). These management units are fairly self-evident, reflecting a combination of environmental units (e.g. rolling downs, hill slopes and steep hill) and management (e.g. cultivated, over-sown and top-dressed and native). Only 460 ha (7%) of Glen Dene is flat to rolling land along the lake shore. The balance is split between oversown and topdressed moderately steep, mid altitude hill country (2505 ha, 42%) and steep, high altitude, native tussock grassland (2730 ha, 46%) that is protected by conservation convenant.
Impact of identifying LMUs on sustainability
Identifying LMUs based on LUC, enables the Burdon’s to integrate objectives relating to stocking, pasture improvement, animal and plant pest control, recreational management, and native biodiversity. Analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each LMU has meant that other potential management options to improve sustainability have been considered.
Conservation and environmental values have been greatly enhanced on Glen Dene through consideration of land use capability.
Through tenure review, conservation covenants in LMU 3 protect this relatively ‘untouched’ area that has high conservation values and biodiversity. Monitoring by Canterbury University and DOC will determine future grazing opportunities in this LMU.
Wetland areas identified in LMU 4 and 5 are being enhanced through planting of native species. These areas will also be fenced off to encourage an increase of wild fowl and mitigate problems associated with stock access to natural water.
There are plans to plant more trees, including native plants such as flaxes and Pittosporums, each year in areas less suited to grazing. This is mainly in the un-cultivatable gullies of the lower land and along the lake margin. Regulations in the district plan of the Queenstown Lakes District Council regarding pine plantations make this more challenging. The Burdon’s however, are keen “to develop a landscape that reflects the area’s natural beauty” and aim to plant as many natives as they can to achieve this.
Where there is exposure to northwest winds in LMU 4 and 5 the intention is to establish shelterbelts of native and exotic species to help conserve soil moisture and reduce wind erosion.
Areas of native bush have been identified and subsequently fenced off where possible. Most areas of native bush are located in steep gullies and protect the land from erosion. There is public access (in the form of walking tracks defined as a result of tenure review) through parts of the native bush. The Burdon’s see this as an important part of the environmental and social sustainability of their property that provides economic benefits through potential diversification into recreation and tourism.
As part of the development programme, and to maintain optimum nutrient levels, a well planned, strategic soil testing plan is carried out. Soil monitoring records stretch back to 1984.
Managing climate change
Under the current management, Overseer estimates that the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from this farming system are 413 kg CO2 eq/per stock unit.
Based on this Overseer estimates that 364 ha of pine plantations would have to be planted in one net rotation to offset this or 100 ha of native. Records of plantings on Glen Dene are kept with a view to the possibility of using these plantings for offsetting some greenhouse gas emissions. As well as 100 hec that has been turned into a native carbon forest.
Richard believes that at 10% of total land area, South Island high country lands “will have a significant influence in balancing emissions, for New Zealand”. Therefore, more information is needed on the amount of carbon stored in tussock grasslands or potential management actions to increase carbon storage. There is a need for more research into the effect of native tussock grasslands and vegetation in emission trading.
The Burdon’s intend to expand on recreation and tourism opportunities that the outstanding landscape within which they farm provides and reduce their dependence on farming income.
“The environment we live and work in and its quality for future generations is a big driver for us. The High Country is unique and we are strongly focussed on retaining and enhancing the land to ensure that.”
ECO STANADRDS FOR GLEN DENE LTD:
Codes of practice:
We will achieve this through:
- Following Glen Dene code of conduct, set to meet eco sustainability guidelines.
- Education of clients
- Communication with landowners.
Maintenance of Ecological sustainability
Maintain sustainability of our working environment by recognition and practice of the following guidelines. These guidelines are set to meet international standards.
- Minimal clearing of sites;
- No clearing of native vegetation.
- Inventory of natural features of sites, to be observed and protected.
- Light no fires, unless permission has been gained.
- Staying strictly to tracks
- Not operating in 4WD vehicle in wet conditions
- Monitoring track conditions
- Leaving all gates as we found them;
- Where a gate looks like it should be shut then report this to the land owner
- Remove all rubbish, as it causes pollution and hazards in waterways
- Correct disposal of toilet waste
- Use biodegradable chemicals only, and drain into soil away from waterways.
- Aircraft flight paths to avoid populated areas and wildlife reserves.
- No generators used at campsite.
- Minimal usage of vehicles
- Encourage our clients to keep personal noise down around stock.
- Minimal release of solvents and hydrocarbon emissions.
- Fire size and emission kept to a minimum
Waste and litter
- Plan trips to cut down on potential rubbish
- Remove all rubbish we take in, and any we see.
- Disposable items not used
- Catering practices limit food waste
- Practice reuse and recycling throughout trips.
- Information and materials provided to encourage carry out rubbish.
(It is not acceptable to burn or bury rubbish or leave it for others)
- Will continue to monitor area of Native Vegetation
- Will work with the Department of Conservation of monitoring
- Employ out side ecologist for advice.
Minimal impact camping
- Sites popular with other visitors are only visited during off peak periods
- No campfires in high conservation areas
- Group size for over night camping is twelve or less
- Use and impact monitoring projects undertaken
- Soaps and detergents are used a minimum of 50M away from watercourses.
Minimal impact hiking
- Guides keep clients to designated tracks
- Guides keep clients to hard ground rather than poorly drained areas or areas of sensitive vegetation.
- Disposable packaging is minimized and all rubbish is removed.
Minimal impact rock climbing/abseiling
- Indiscriminate or excessive use of fixed equipment is avoided
- Indiscriminate or excessive use of chalk is avoided
- Rock chipping is avoided
- Access to crags via designated tracks
- All necessary approvals gained by land managers
- Use of galvanized bolt is avoided
- Vegetation and nest birds not disturbed
Minimal impact vehicle use.
- Travel routes on tracks preferred by land managers
- Vehicles/bikes are kept in excellent working order.
- Vehicles/bikes are cleaned before entering areas of high conservation significance.
- Vehicles/bikes are kept to highest and driest ground.
- Driving/riding only on designated tracks and roads provided.
- Creeks forwarded at designated crossings
- Regular contact with land manager to monitor conditions
- Usage and impact reports undertaken
Minimal impact boating
- Powered vessels are set to and operated to minimize fuel usage
- Oil/grease contaminated bilge water not discharged
- Vessel speeds are set so as to not reduce the ability of other to enjoy the environment.
- Vessel wash does not adversely affect lakeshores or riverbanks
- Where tours involve regular anchoring, moorings are used to minimize environmental impact e.g. Mou Waho island.
- Portaging of rafts and kayaks along designated routes
- Camping or picnicking involves minimum impact on sensitive bank or shore areas.
Minimal impact Aircraft use
- Airstrips/helipads are located as far as possible from public areas.
- Flight paths avoid naturally or culturally sensitive areas.
- Operators have the necessary permits/licences to operate.
Throughout our trips our clients will be made aware of the environment and their relationship with it. Rules of the road will be laid down pre departure and checked for understanding.
We will endeavour to supply our clients with interesting relevant information about the alpine environment, and in turn create eco awareness. This adds to their overall experience with us, as well as ensuring they act responsibly toward the land and waterways etc.
Understanding the requirements and concerns of landowners is important to us. Regular communication will provide a healthy relationship and catalyst for improvement.
Keep an accurate record of trip numbers, which can be reviewed in our environmental impact reports. This information is very useful for monitoring sustainability and regulating future activity.
Eco watchdogs: Act as a watchdog over areas possibly not often visited by landowners, our background in farming an asset in this respect.
Maintains and implement an extensive safety plan. Safe practice minimizes incident and impact on the environment. Design independent rescue procedures and takes responsibility for the safety of their clients whilst in the outdoors.
Recognize all regulations, conduct codes and special requirements of DOC, district and local councils, and land managers.