A History of the Forest
“Ancient trees are precious. There is little else on Earth that plays host to such a rich community of life within a single living organism.”
Sir David Attenborough
From Ashburton, make your way to State Highway 77 and follow the signs to Staveley, a scenic 40 kilometers drive towards picturesque mountains. Turn right onto State Highway 72 and two kilometers further, on the left you will reach Sawmill Road and a signpost directing you to Staveley Camp.
A sweeping left turn and the driveway leads you towards a cluster of white hexagons, one large, eight small. Your eyes sweep over the lush green behind the buildings and your heart instantly yearns for a bushwalk.
Eight hectares of native bush comprises the Staveley Camp Forest. You’re invited to walk and explore the woodland. Take gentle steps and deep breaths. Smell the foliage and catch the harmonious birdsong. If you’re fortunate enough to have our passionate caretaker Gen de Spa alongside she can enlighten you on the different species of the trees, shrubs, ferns and herbs along the paths, not just what is there now, but what used to be there. She will also distinguish between the precious native treasures and the destructive weeds which have been a constant threat to this forest. She will readily admit all her knowledge came from many people who were there before her (and the iNaturalist app comes in handy).
And she will emphasise the hard work already done and still needed to eradicate the weeds.
It’s easy to see why the camp has attracted so many visitors making the most of its facilities.
This narrative captures the history behind the Staveley Camp and its Forest. We learn about the people who had the notion and determination to create the Camp and its facilities. We also follow their journey towards gaining its Queen Elizabeth II National Trust covenant for the Forest to ensure its ongoing protection for generations to come. We read their stories, memories, and aspirations for the Campsite. And we document the tremendous amount of work done as well as capture the community spirit vital to the survival of this precious asset.
And we document the ecological features of the bush for the purpose of educating generations to come, with the hope they will continue the hard work.