In this occasional series, David Barnes attempts to unravel and demystify the different types of conservation land.  

Conservation parks are, to some extent, the tier below national parks. Like National Parks, they are usually large swathes of land. Importantly (for us) they have a legislated recreation focus, subject to natural and historic resources being protected. One important difference to national parks for some recreationalists is the ability to take dogs there. The majority of conservation parks were forest parks. In fact, they still are – the Conservation Act redesignated them as conservation parks in 1987, but the names lived on. Most forest parks are in the North Island. Tararua and Ruahines Forest Parks are examples.

More recently, much land in the South Island high country that’s come into the public conservation estate – either by tenure review or as the result of a Crown purchase – has become conservation parks. FMC’s advocacy over the years has been a big contributor to this, with the Freedom of the Hills book (2003) and the Six Pack of Parks campaign (2005, with Forest and Bird). Examples include Korowai Torlesse Conservation Park and Ahuriri Conservation Park.

Next time:  wilderness areas

David Barnes is a long serving member of the FMC executive. He is FMC’s nominee to the NZ Conservation Authority, the public representative board which provides advice to DOC and the Minister of Conservation.