Members of the Upper Clutha Vegetation Control Group say
they are shocked at the "complete lack of remorse" shown by a
landowner whose permitted bracken burn-off sparked a large fire
which charred 350ha on Wanaka's Roys Peak this week.
Comments made by the owner of Tuohys farm, John Levy, in
yesterday's Otago Daily Times have angered the group,
which was established to minimise the need to burn and reduce
the risk of burns escaping permitted areas.
Its members include local run-holders with significant areas
of bracken, fire authorities and interested community
Chairman Allan Kane said Mr Levy's description of burning
being a natural process of rejuvenation showed "a complete
lack of understanding of the local environment and
The UCVCG had been working to increase community
understanding and communication surrounding vegetation
"Local farmers on the group would be extremely upset if the
Wanaka community thought that Mr Levy's attitude was shared
by all," Mr Kane said.
"Under no circumstances does the group condone endangering
lives and destroying conservation land. The UCVCG hopes that
the Wanaka community will not judge all farmers based on the
actions of this lifestyler."
He said farmers in the group had an appreciation of
conservation values and the need to protect them and he was
concerned the fire would diminish the good work the group had
done to date. This week's fire burnt about 70ha of
"This year, those members of the group who have carried out
controlled burns have done so without incident.
"The code of practice we developed and the closer working
relationship with Doc have had a positive effect. To have
this happen is very frustrating."
He said Mr Levy had not been involved with the group as it
was not known he had a significant bracken area, or that he
was planning to burn, and he encouraged all owners of
lifestyle blocks thinking of burning to make contact with the
group and attend meetings.
Mr Levy was unable to be contacted yesterday.