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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Law, S Rufaut, C Lilly, K and Craw, D 2016. Geology, evaporative salt accumulation and geoecology at Springvale historic gold mine, Central Otago, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, p. 1.

    KING, WARREN MCG and WILSON, J. BASTOW 2006. Differentiation between native and exotic plant species in a dry grassland: realized responses to perturbation, and comparison with fundamental responses. Austral Ecology, Vol. 31, Issue. 8, p. 984.

    Allen, R.B. Wilson, J. Bastow and Mason, C.R. 1995. Vegetation change following exclusion of grazing animals in depleted grassland, Central Otago, New Zealand. Journal of Vegetation Science, Vol. 6, Issue. 5, p. 615.

    Foran, Barney and Wardle, Kate 1995. Transitions in land use and the problems of planning: a case study from the mountainlands of New Zealand. Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 43, Issue. 2, p. 97.

    Dritschilo, William Merifield, Paul M. Kay, David Sarna, John Weinstein, Michael N. and Sciarrotta, Terry C. 1986. Energy and Arid Lands: Potential Impacts of Intensive Energy Deployment in Desert Regions of Southern California. Environmental Conservation, Vol. 13, Issue. 01, p. 7.

    Mabbutt, Jack A. 1984. A New Global Assessment of the Status and Trends of Desertification. Environmental Conservation, Vol. 11, Issue. 02, p. 103.


The Desertification of Central Otago, New Zealand

  • Alexander S. Mather (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 August 2009

The utilization of tussock grasslands in the semi-arid and sub-humid tussock grasslands of Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand, by European sheep farmers, began during the 1850s. Many of the sheep farmers and their hired shepherds migrated from the Scottish Highlands, and brought with them the management practices with which they were familiar. The extensive sheep farms or ‘runs’ were rented on government-owned land, and the graziers did not enjoy long-term security of tenure; nor did they receive compensation for any improvements which they might have undertaken during their occupancy.

The combination of frequent burning of the vegetation and overgrazing soon resulted in a perceptible decrease in vegetation cover, such that land deterioration accelerated in the 1870s and 1880s when a rabbit pest irrupted. No effective action was taken to deal with the problem of land deterioration, and by the early part of the twentieth century parts of Central Otago were described as man-made desert. The tussock grassland had given way to almost bare soil interspersed with patches of Scabweed (Raoulia lutescens), and accelerated soil erosion resulted in slope-wash and gullying. Remedial action was delayed by the outbreak of the First World War, but a major Commission of Inquiry at the end of the war concluded that unsuitable forms of land tenure had contributed significantly to the desertification and land deterioration.

Eventually, changes in land tenure were introduced, providing for security of tenure, entitlement to compensation for land improvements, and controls on husbandry and stocking levels.

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Environmental Conservation
  • ISSN: 0376-8929
  • EISSN: 1469-4387
  • URL: /core/journals/environmental-conservation
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