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Part of forest retired to protect pipeline

An area of about 50 hectares in the Pamoa Forest will be retired from harvesting to protect the main water pipeline supplying Gisborne City.

Gisborne District Council was told that this would amount to about 3 percent of the total area of forest. The council has a joint venture with forestry company JNL which intends to start harvesting the 1607ha forest later this year.

Councillors resolved to retire the land, but Amber Dunn questioned whether the area should be replanted in pines.

Lifelines director David Wilson said the issue was around land they knew would erode. There were council assets below steep gullies.

“Once we harvest those gullies they are going to start moving. We need to protect the pipeline,” he said.

The pipeline was only about 600 to 700mm deep at those stages. It was even exposed in some areas across the gullies.

The pipe could be damaged quite easily, given the volume of the material above it.

What they were asking was for the harvesting plan to make sure the pipe was protected.

Ms Dunn wondered why the council was moving so fast and being so specific about the total area of land they were protecting.

She could see other options that did not seem to have been explored. The Vision 22 document talked about the Tairawhiti bioregion and here was a massive opportunity to expand that. It fitted better with the purpose of this land, which was to secure the water supply and long-term pipeline protection.

The council should ease up and widen the scope of the possibilities for this land, and not just assume that another rotation of pine might be best.

At the very least they could opt for a minimum of 50 hectares.

“I just wonder why we are going so fast and setting a quantum now.”

Mr Wilson said a paper on the long-term future of the Waingake Bush area would be presented to the Future Tairawhiti committee.

The council needed to give an indication to JNL because it was part of their harvesting plan and they had their mill scheduled to receive it.

Future management of the area was another matter.

Shannon Dowsing questioned how the council intended to fund this. The report indicated they would fund replanting from the proceeds of the harvesting.

There would be an increase in carbon credits if they reverted and it did not mention the reversion fund available from central government. He would like to see more work done on how this could be funded. He also wondered why the council was rushing now, when it had 25 years in which the forest had been growing.

Larry Foster said he wanted to see harvesting done to the highest standard, with none of the problems seen recently in the district. The council should lead by example on this.

Chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said the council needed to hold discussions with JNL about a second planting and joint venture. That was why there would be a workshop at Future Tairawhiti.