Forest sold to Americans
The cutting rights to more than 5000 hectares of public forest in the Wellington region have been sold to American interests.
Wellington Regional Council decided at its meeting on May 15 to sell the cutting rights to its metropolitan and Wairarapa forests for the next 60 years to United States company Resource Management Service LLC.
The council owns 3400 hectares of metropolitan forest around Wellington, which is expected to yield about 90,000 tonnes of timber each year, and 1700 hectares of forest in the Wairarapa, which could produce 30,000 tonnes a year.
The price will be decided at the end of June after a stocktake.
Regional council chairwoman Fran Wilde said the council bought the forests a long time ago.
‘‘We’ve cleared the debt and got a little bit of money left over, but we still own the land,’’ she said.
In a couple of forest harvest cycles a future council could decide what it wanted to do with the land, Ms Wilde said.
Harvest scheduling, and where and how the timber would be used would be at the discretion of the buyer, she said.
‘‘ We hope they will put it through CentrePort,’’ she said.
The council has retained the right to restrict logging at times of the week when the forests are used for recreational purposes, and to impose high health and safety standards.
‘‘ There have been some unacceptable deaths, basically,’’ she said.
Ms Wilde said she understood cutting subcontractors would be hired locally.
Safety precautions: Fran Wilde said high safety standards had been imposed on the American buyers of regional forests.