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Tasman Pine Forests to regrow lost Nelson fire plantations

The forestry company that owns 60% of the plantations lost in the Nelson fire is hopeful it can start regrowing the area this winter. Tasman Pine Forests – owned by Sumitomo Forestry NZ – manages 36,200 hectares of forest in the Nelson Marlborough region. The Pigeon valley fire started outside of Tasman Pine Forests estate, but soon spread to an area of 2300ha. About 1400ha – or 60% of the total area burnt – was owned by the company. Source: Stuff NZ

With the fire now contained, the company was taking stock and planning for the future.

Tasman Pine Forests chief operating officer Steve Chandler said the forestry losses were serious and the supply of logs to customers had been affected. But he said the fire was not expected to have a short or long term impact on Tasman Pine’s business in the region.

“Due to the variety of tree age classes that have been burnt with the fire containment area and the presence of areas of partially and unburnt trees which are planned to be salvaged, an estimate of financial loss will not be known until salvage operations are completed,” he said.

Tasman Pine was planning to replant parts of the burnt area this winter and further replanting would happen in subsequent years as areas are harvested or cleared of burnt material.

“Once the state of emergency is lifted we are planning to resume harvesting and log delivery operations while at the same time increasing precautionary measures to manage the risk of any further fire outbreaks,” Mr Chandler said.

“We still need to remain vigilant as operations begin to return to normal as the fire risk will remain very high until significant rain occurs.”

The initial challenges for the company would be to extract as many of the burnt trees as possible before they started to deteriorate. Additional manpower and machinery resources would be required and additional resources would also be required for clearing and replanting the areas burnt.

Tokyo based Sumitomo Forestry director Shigeru Sasabe spent two days this week inspecting the fire damage as well as meeting with staff and fire fighting personnel.

Fire mop up and patrol work would continue in the fire area and the rest of our forests until significant rain is received.

With a number of forestry crews in the Nelson region stood down in the wake of the fire, affecting an estimated 210-240 contract workers, it was expected Tasman Pine’s silvicultural crews who have had their normal work curtailed by the fire risk would be fully employed with fire control and patrol work.

Mr Chandler said while the Civil Defence emergency had meant an number of their contractors had been unable to carry out normal operational activities, some had also assisted with firefighting activities.