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Protecting our precious places

NZ Government selects QEII National Trust for Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy initiative

28 November 2015

Media release

Queen Elizabeth II National Trust has been selected as New Zealand’s contributing partner in the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy initiative (QCC), chair James Guild said today.

The QCC initiative was announced at the Opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta on 27 November to mark Her Majesty's long reign and dedication to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth’s 53 members have been invited to contribute to QCC through programmes that demonstrate how their citizens are protecting native forests.

Chair James Guild said the National Trust is greatly honoured to have been selected as New Zealand’s contributor to the QCC.

‘It shows that the government has confidence in the work we do in partnership with private landowners to protect New Zealand’s natural heritage,’ he said. 

Queen Elizabeth II National Trust has been partnering with landowners for almost 40 years to help them permanently protect natural and cultural heritage places on their land with covenants. Landowners continue to own and care for their covenants with the Trust’s support.

The network of covenants protects special places across the 70% of New Zealand’s land that is privately owned and highly modified. Guild said this is where some of our richest biodiversity is represented, but where it is least protected and most at risk.

To support the QCC in New Zealand, the Government has agreed to spend $1 million over 3 years to help the National Trust extend its network of covenants over native forest on private land.

‘In effect we already have a Queen’s Canopy in place with over 4000 covenants established under the name of Queen Elizabeth II National Trust and this will give our work a great boost.

‘At the moment there are more landowners wanting to covenant special places on their land than the National Trust can afford. With these funds we can support more to protect more, giving our most threatened biodiversity a better chance to flourish,’ Guild said.

Permanently protecting what remains of our native forests on private land enhances the environment, protects the unique features and values that we cherish as a nation, and ultimately benefits our society as a whole, he said.

‘The National Trust is delighted to have this opportunity to build the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy here in New Zealand and demonstrate New Zealanders’ commitment to protecting indigenous forests,’ Guild said.


More information

Queen Elizabeth II National Trust 

The QEII National Trust was established in 1977. It was named to mark the  Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in the same year. 

A grass roots initiative, it was led by farmers for farmers and other landowners to encourage and promote the preservation and protection of open space on private land. 

Open Space is described in the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust Act 1977 as any area of land or body of water that serves to preserve or to facilitate the preservation of any landscape of aesthetic, cultural, recreational, scenic, scientific or social interest or value. That includes landscapes, wetlands, native forest remnants, archaeological, historic and geological features.  

Many of New Zealand’s highest priority biodiversity environments requiring protection lie on private land.  The QEII National Trust partners with private landowners  who want to permanently protect  these special features on their land with open space covenants. Landowners retain ownership of the covenanted land and are responsible for its ongoing care. The National Trust manages the covenanting process, provides management advice, and works with all landowners to make sure the covenant agreement is respected by current and subsequent owners. 

More than 4000 covenants have been established by private landowners in New Zealand and the demand to covenant continues. Together landowners are currently protecting approximately 180,000ha of special features on their land. That is an area similar in size to Rakiura/Stewart Island or the greater Auckland region.

The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy Initiative (QCC) 

The QCC is a proposal to create a network of rainforest and native forest conservation initiatives throughout the Commonwealth.  The initiative is a partnership between The Palace, the Royal Commonwealth Society, and a rainforest charity called Cool Earth. The QCC will consist of examples of best forest conservation practice across the Commonwealth’s 53 members and will demonstrate that the Commonwealth’s citizens are leading the world in their efforts to protect the forest. 

New Zealand is one of first countries to support this initiative. 


James Guild (QEII National Trust Chairperson) - 03 03 318 6873

Mike Jebson (QEII National Trust Chief Executive) - 021 499 759

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