For Balmoral Station owner Andrew Simpson knowledge is key to
making the best decisions for the future.
''If you don't have answers you can't plan your future''You
have to know as much as you can, to understand things, to be
able to make clever decisions.''
Over the years the Simpsons have welcomed scientists and
researchers of all persuasions on to the unique property.
Balmoral was home to the oldest agricultural trial site in
the country, forestry crown research institute Scion had been
conducting trials on the property for the past 20 years and
this included New Zealand's biggest dryland forestry trial,
There were ''trials within trials ... bird counts, soil
enhancement, water yield ...''
.This evidence-based approach to management underpins the
Simpsons significant contribution to conservation.
In 2005, faced with tenure review options which would have
been unsustainable, they embarked on a unique approach.
The Government wanted to reclaim 2800ha - more than 40% of
the Simpson's leasehold, for the conservation estate, Mr
They decided to enlist the help of scientists and the QEII
National Trust and investigate.
The outcome was 400ha were deemed to have significant
An independent trust board of scientists and ecologists,
together with the Simpsons and fellow high country farmer Ben
Albury, was set up to manage conservation on the property.
The trust board was first charged with identifying those
values that needed protection, Mr Simpson said.
''We have 180ha set aside as a benchmark area.
''That has 360 vegetation plots [which have been] described,
photographed and GPSed.
''There are another 180 plots on the rest of the property, as
benchmarks, so they can see whether or not the farming
practices are sustainable.''
''We also have seven water quality monitoring sites on the
streams on the property.''
The outcome of the trust's work to date was testament to the
fact community ownership of areas which needed conservation
protection could work just as well as full Crown ownership
and control, Mr Simpson said.