Robin Thomas is enjoying his new role as Queen Elizabeth II
National Trust's Coastal Otago representative. Photo by
Dealing with enthusiastic, passionate people about
protecting special features on their land is invigorating,
Queen Elizabeth II National Trust's Coastal Otago
representative Robin Thomas says.
The former Department of Conservation Coastal Otago area
manager is enjoying every minute of his new job with the
''It's fantastic. It is invigorating to talk to these people
with such a passion and to want to do something about it.''
Mr Thomas bowed out of Doc during its latest restructuring
after 40 years with the department and its predecessors. He
said he had not looked back.
The trust gave landowners the opportunity to protect an area
of land with recognised special features, such as forest and
bush remnants, wildlife habitats, wetlands and cultural
sites, via a covenant while it was in private ownership.
He travels the region monitoring and providing advice and
support for QEII covenants and talks to landowners keen to
set up new ones.
The new job was testing all his existing skills and requiring
him to learn news ones.
''I've had to brush up on GPS systems and do a crash course
in plant identification. It's really challenging. Exciting
Listening to people's aspirations and ideas was an important
part of the job.
''I'm a sounding board a lot of the time.''
While still new to the job, he had been contacted by many
people considering applying for a covenant on their property.
Mostly they had a passion and interest about a particular
part of their property.
''In some cases it might just be fencing an area, in others
it might involve active involvement in predator control, weed
control or enhanced planting.''
Once the property had been assessed by Mr Thomas it went to
the trust's board for evaluation and approval.
If it was approved, the covenant was registered on the land's
title and assistance could be given to help fence the area,
if needed, and to have the area surveyed.
Representatives such as him then aimed to visit every second
year to monitor progress and offer support and advice on
things such as pest and weed control, he said.
Otago had a huge range of areas under covenant, from coastal
bush remnants to open tussock land and wetlands.
''It fills a niche between crown blocks and, from wildlife
point of view, it's important as it can create corridors
between larger protected areas.''
South Otago farmer Helen Guilder is in the process of seeking
a covenant to protect an area of land she and husband Peter
had left to regenerate and planned to enhance. They also
hoped to be able to re-establish a wetland.
''I want it to be there for future generations,'' she said.
Marjorie Orr and Colin McIntosh have about 20ha of
regenerating native coastal forest under covenant near Saddle
Hill which is also home to a peripatus worm population.
''We love the trees and bush and wanted to make sure it is
It was nice to know it would be protected after they were
gone, she said.
QEII National Trust
• Independent statutory organisation set up in
• It encourages and promotes the provision,
preservation and enhancement of open space.
• A covenant is a legal agreement between the
trust and landowner.
• Covenants bind owners and all subsequent owners
• Covenants registered on land title.
• Covenants protect an area of private land with
• Landowners are responsible for managing
• Financial assistance is available for fencing
• Covenants are monitored by QE Trust every
• Applications must be approved by a board of
• Covenants: 194 (nationally 4200)
• Area: 11,318ha
• Largest: 2735ha
• Average size: 58.3ha (national average 29.5ha)