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Reefton firm to salvage windblown timber

A Reefton company has won the first contract to salvage cyclone-damaged, native timber on the West Coast. Source:

New Zealand Sustainable Forest Products Ltd (NZSFP) will be allowed to take 600 cubic metres of rimu and 100 cubic metres of red beech from the Grey Valley area, east of Greymouth.

The authorised area spans almost 500 hectares, but only about 40ha of the mixed beech and podocarp forest, which includes rimu, was damaged when Cyclone Ita hit the West Coast in April.

Two months after the cyclone hit, Parliament passed the West Coast Wind-blown Timber (Conservation Lands) Act 2014 to allow some damaged timber to be removed from conservation land.

Department of Conservation (DOC) West Coast conservation service director Roy Grose said NZSFP would at most only salvage half the wind-damaged trees from half the allotted area, “and this will be spread out across the area to minimise impact on the forest”.

The remainder of the wind-blown trees will be left, including a proportion of big logs as part of the forest ecosystem.

NZSFP would remove most of the timber by helicopters and heavy machinery will be restricted to existing roads.

DOC, the Ministry of Primary Industries and iwi representatives are assessing 13 more applications to remove timber.

Three of those have been approved to salvage about 1300 cubic metres of timber from other areas between Hokitika and Karamea and the operators are finalising their work plans. The remaining 10 are still being considered.

DOC will receive stumpage fees per cubic metre of timber salvaged, which will be used to fund conservation work.

A further three operators are working with DOC to gain approval to salvage about 1300 cubic metres of timber from other areas between Hokitika and Karamea.

An estimation of $300,000 to $400,000 will be generated for conservation funds once other costs are covered.

There has been interest to salvage a similar amount of timber in the coming year.