Killing trees is ‘eco terrorism’
Kinloch Community Association president Belinda Walker says the deliberate poisoning of between 30 and 40 native trees on Conservation Department reserve at the village is “eco-terrorism”.
The dying kahikatea trees in the Whangamata¯ Stream Scenic Reserve were discovered by weed contractor Peter Marshall last month while doing weed control with Kinloch locals. Closer investigation showed drill marks in the trees’ trunks. He has reported the vandalism to DOC.
Peter says locals told him that there had been a request to have the trees removed and DOC confirms there is speculation that the trees have been killed so that they will not grow tall enough to obstruct views from adjoining properties.
Peter has been involved in restoring the reserve, once pasture, since the late 1980s and says it was “heart breaking” to see the work undone. Only kahikatea trees were found to have been poisoned.
The kahikatea were between 6m and 7m tall but can grow to 55m.
It is an offence under the Reserves Act 1977 to cut or destroy trees and bush without a permit, and while many other trees and shrubs have been illegally cut and trimmed in the DOC reserve, this latest act is the worst since the reserve came under DOC management in 1987. Other trees in the reserve have been severely pruned to allow lake views.
Belinda says it is “massively, massively disappointing” to see the trees, more than 30 years old, are slowly dying and she is asking that anybody with information about who may be responsible contacts Dave Lumley at DOC.
“If by some miracle anything is known, then it could be a police investigation,” she says. “The community’s outraged that it’s happened.”
In 2013 a spate of tree poisonings occurred in Kinloch, with a number of trees on council land dying. The poisoner was eventually caught in the act and prosecuted.
Belinda says the community association understands that there had been requests to DOC to top the trees on the reserve and says an upcoming issue is the safety of the ageing poplars that are also part of the same reserve but which are protected by their listing as notable trees.
DOC operations manager for the Central Plateau District Dave Lumley says it is a real concern that significant vegetation on public conservation land has been treated in this manner.
Peter Marshall in the Whangamata¯ Stream Scenic Reserve at Kinloch with the poisoned kahikatea trees.