Upset at loss of woodlands
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.