Why are they planting wilding trees?
Central Otago District councillors need only raise their eyes to the hills around Alexandra to see evidence of the pernicious spread of wilding trees. No doubt they did so earlier this year when they set aside ratepayer funds to combat the further spread of wilding trees across the district’s landscapes, which only compounds the same council’s crime against reason and common sense when it recently permitted two plantations of Douglas Fir at exposed altitudes on Lammermoor Station. While the consents were granted under management conditions proposed by the applicant, council appears to have been less than diligent by not seeking independent verification that those conditions will be sufficient over the timescale of the plantations. Council culpability is only compounded by their seemingly deliberate failure to recognise the unnecessary risk they were imposing on the Lammermoor Range, which the Environment Court has assessed as being “of national importance because of its vast, open tussock landscapes.’’ Plantation forestry and offshoot wood processing industries are likely to become significant contributors to Central Otago’s economy in the future so it is expected that more applications to establish forestry blocks will follow. Questions regarding councillors’ competence and stewardship will have to wait until the next local body election. Meanwhile, there is an urgent need for the council to reinforce the district plan with a policy and rules to ensure that future plantations are established only in appropriate places and not at the expense of the outstanding landscapes.
Graye Shattky coordinated the Save Central campaign which defeated a giant wind farm on Lammermoor Range.