Up­set at loss of wood­lands

Waitaki Herald - - NEWS -

As Katrina Clark looks out the win­dows of her Palmer­ston home she is greeted by a wood­land.

The ex­otic tree plan­ta­tion on Brough St, is a place where her chil­dren Owen, 8, and Alice, 5, play and ride their ponies.

The plan­ta­tion is well used by oth­ers for dog walk­ing and horse rid­ing and has made the small North Otago town ‘‘vis­ually pleas­ing’’ for both lo­cals and passersby, she said. But that is set to change. ‘‘The Waitaki Dis­trict Coun­cil have iden­ti­fied four large blocks im­me­di­ately ad­join­ing the town­ship that are to be felled in the next month or so. Felling has al­ready started in the block at the base of Mt Puke­tapu,’’ Clark said.

Though she un­der­stands the blocks were planted by the coun­cil for a rea­son, Clark said she and many other res­i­dents have strong con­cerns about the vis­ual im­pact the loss of all four blocks of wood­land will have on the town­ship and do not not feel the com­mu­nity has been con­sid­ered in the out­come.

‘‘The blocks are in prom­i­nent po­si­tions close to the edges of the built up area and form a back­drop and vis­ual gate­way into the town­ship from all di­rec­tions. They are an in­te­gral part of Palmer­ston’s land­scape char­ac­ter.

‘‘ The har­vest­ing of all four blocks in a very short space of time will ren­der the town­ship to that of a war zone,’’ she said.

‘‘ Coun­cil have not con­sulted with lo­cal res­i­dents about this. They have is­sued a small press re­lease in The Link newsletter stat­ing that th­ese blocks are to be har­vested.

‘‘This is not con­sul­ta­tion, it is no­ti­fi­ca­tion about a de­ci­sion that has al­ready been made.’’

Clark said Palmer­ston re­lies heav­ily on pass­ing tourism trade.

‘‘At present, the town­ship is vis­ually framed by the pres­ence of th­ese wood­lands which of­fer an en­closed and in­ti­mate feel to the area.

‘‘Once th­ese trees are all gone, driv­ing into the town will feel like en­ter­ing an ex­posed and windswept waste­land. This will have a knock-on ef­fect on tourism, re­tail, at­tract­ing new fam­i­lies into the area to live, prop­erty prices etc etc. Has this as­pect been given any thought by coun­cil?’’

Recre­ation manager Erik van der Spek said the coun­cil tries to work with com­mu­nity and had ad­vised the com­mu­nity of the planned work through the Wai­hemo Com­mu­nity Board, me­dia re­leases and some dis­cus­sions with neigh­bours.

He ac­knowl­edged the com­mu­nity used the wood­land recre­ation­ally and was open to dis­cussing com­mu­nity con­cerns fur­ther.

He said forestry is pri­mar­ily a fi­nan­cial busi­ness for coun­cil and in gen­eral is man­aged as such.

‘‘As part of this, har­vest of the trees is ex­pected and tim­ing is based on the op­ti­mal size of trees, con­di­tion of the for­est and mar­ket price of the time.’’

When the Her­ald

went to print on Mon­day, a meet­ing to dis­cuss the wood­lands with the com­mu­nity had been or­gan­ised by the coun­cil and was sched­uled for Mon­day evening.

Owen, 8, and Alice Clark, 5, en­joy walk­ing their ponies in a plan­ta­tion on Brough Rd, val­ued as a recre­ational area by the Palmer­ston com­mu­nity, but which may soon get the chop.

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