New Plymouth district councillors have dismissed the idea of introducing rules forcing farmers to protect significant natural areas identified on their land.
Forest and Bird and Department of Conservation representatives urged councillors at a policy meeting on Tuesday night to bring in regulations requiring landowners get permission before clearing special pockets of indigenous vegetation.
DoC conservation officer Bill Fleury said a significant part of the district had lost almost all of its natural character and rules were needed to protect remaining special areas.
But councillors said rules were not needed and they preferred to continue a voluntary approach.
Lynn Bublitz told the meeting the decline in significant natural areas had been minimal.
"Our farmers have been doing a great job and it's also shown by the fact that we have more QE II covenants in this area than in any other area so north of Auckland and Wellsford they might have been chopping down all the bush. Here the farmers haven't."
He said it was better to collaborate with farmers on saving special areas, and they should be compensated for land they could no longer develop.