Killing trees is ‘eco ter­ror­ism’

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - Front Page - Lau­rilee McMichael

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.

Photo / Lau­rilee McMichael

Peter Mar­shall in the Whanga­mata¯ Stream Scenic Re­serve at Kin­loch with the poi­soned kahikatea trees.

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