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Webpoll participants give thumbs up to native species at Pamoa Forest

Just over 72 percent of those who responded to The Gisborne Herald weekly webpoll agreed with the Gisborne District Council decision to convert 800 hectares (71 percent) of its Pamoa pine forest to native species.

A total of 336 people responded to the webpoll, with 243 answering “yes”, 76, or 23 percent, “no”, and 17, or 5 percent, “undecided”.

One “yes” respondent said there was no cost to establish an indigenous forest when the natural seed source was adjoining, as in this case.

“Planting is not necessary. Pioneer indigenous species will quickly establish, needing only nature to do so. Yes, weed control, especially wilding pines, will be an initial and ongoing issue as with any other type of forest — an ongoing issue but reducing as the indigenous forest outcompetes weeds such as blackberry in time. Introduced animal pests — pigs, deer goats, possums — are an issue needing control in any forest as do mustelids (ferrets/stoats/weasels) where biodiversity is worth protecting.”

Another said long-term native re-vegetation was the best solution to much erosion-prone East Coast land.

“We must develop new technologies, pharmaceuticals, eco-lodges and adventure tourism initiatives to make best use of our new native forests.”

One “yes” respondent applauded the council.

“Much of the area of Pamoa which will not be planted in a second rotation of pine will naturally regenerate into a diverse native forest without actually planting native species because of the adjacent Waingake Bush and regenerating bush around the Mangapoike dams.

“There is also a reasonable amount of bird life to distribute seeds from these sources, although comprehensive pest control is desperately needed throughout these areas.

“There will be an opportunity to create a biodiversity corridor linking Waingake bush with the Mangapoike dams catchment through Pamoa. Also, a cover of native forest will provide the highest quality of fresh water for Gisborne’s water supply, through protecting the soil, and retaining moisture and releasing it more gradually.”

Another felt biodiversity was a much healthier option environmentally than continuing to plant more pine forests.

Another respondent would have preferred 100 percent native.

“But this is good! It may cost more but at least it is future-proofing — some of our councillors seem to be motivated more towards the status quo than considering the far-reaching impact of their outdated decisions.”

One of the “no” respondents said plantings must surely be totally in those tree species which, from current perspectives, would produce the greatest income when harvested.

“After all, the ratepayer needs to be the ultimate beneficiary. Why are some councillors seemingly not aware of this?”

Another person who clicked “no” said it was a decision made without proper analysis of the facts, which would cost ratepayers dearly.

“Protection of our water supply was the major consideration that determined the extent and type of the present forest cover.”

A “no” respondent said returns to ratepayers were more important than “idiots’ dreams”.

“Income is our right.”

Other “no” respondents said —

“Native forest cannot be milled so is nothing more than an extravagance.”

“Too expensive and the council will get no income off it. Any type of tree will protect the land, eg Douglas fir or redwood or pines.”

One person who clicked “undecided” said they did not know enough to make an informed decision.