Reserve mooted to allay felling fears

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2013
murray cox
Murray Cox

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Tekapo residents have expressed concern about a proposal to fell trees near the Cowan's Hill scientific reserve.

The Mackenzie Forestry Board was eyeing up a 13ha section for harvesting, near the popular Tekapo recreational area.

Councillor representative Graeme Page said log prices were at good rates, and much of the forest had reached maturity.

However, Tekapo community board chairman Murray Cox said there had been concern among residents about the effect it would have on the walkway and recreational area.

"It's a popular spot for visitors and locals, there are some who are worried about what would happen if the trees were no longer there," Mr Cox said.

"Personally, I understand that the council's forestry board is in a difficult position because they own the land for commercial purposes, and want to make a return on it.

"However, the locals also have an attachment to the area, and the trees."

Mr Cox said there would need to be slight alterations to some of the proposed walkway tracks under construction in the area.

A five-kilometre walkway to connect various parts of the town was in its early stages.

Several residents have written to both the community board and district council expressing their concern.

Resident Anne Braun-Elwert said that the council should re-classify the forest as a recreation reserve and take it out of the forestry board's portfolio.

Mr Page said a public meeting was held this week, where 20 people offered a range of options.

"We've suggested the locals put a proposal before us. We've suggested they could vest the affected forestry area to a trust.

"I appreciate why people are attached to the trees, but we have a commercial imperative," he said. "It's not only the purchasing of the trees, it's the upkeep of maintaining them."

Mackenzie district community facilities manager Garth Nixon's report to council said the forestry board hoped to obtain a net revenue of at least $90,000 from the felling of select parts.

He suggested a compromise, where parts of the section set aside for forestry could be turned into a recreational area.

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- The Timaru Herald

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