It’s an exciting time for Te Mata Park as the Park Trust prepares for a significant milestone, removing nearly 12 hectares of old pine plantations and returning large sections of the Park to native bush. With ambitious plans to plant nearly 60,000 native plants over the next three years, the Park Trust aims to improve biodiversity and create a beautiful habitat for native birdlife as well as a wonderful destination for park users in the years to come.
“Removal of the pine trees is now crucial as many of these trees are increasingly hazardous to the public, with huge numbers of fallen trees and vulnerable branches on the cusp of falling,” commented Te Mata Park Trust Board Chairman Mike Devonshire.
In a comprehensive report that was created for the Park in 2006, ecologist Geoff Walls established that the ”pine plantations have outgrown their usefulness and are becoming dangerous to people…(and that they should be) felled and replaced with native vegetation.”
A 2019 assessment by Bart Mulder of ProArbore confirms these recommendations stating that “the perimeter trees have large lateral branching and this has significant potential for failures and risk to the public. There are a number of trees that have failed entirely and have fallen, they remain hung up and these possess significant risks as people go underneath them. There are many with major defects and will fail in time.”
With considerable preparations now complete, Pan Pac Forest Products will be removing these trees. The forestry work will significantly affect public access to the park, including a closure of Chambers Walk and the Tauroa Road car park, from early March 2020 for approximately 6 to 8 weeks. To ensure the comfort of the community and protection of the roads, the logging trucks will not carry trailers and will be closely monitored and managed, with traffic management on the narrow stretch of Tauroa Road. The route is from Tauroa Road, down Duart Road and out via Napier Road to the mill.
The Park Trust requests that park users respect the track closures during this period. Security guards, fencing and signage will provide clarity as to which tracks are open and which are closed to the public. A map is available on the Te Mata Park website outlining these areas.
There are two blocks of pine forest that will be removed. The larger, older area of 7.3 hectares is located between Chambers Walk and the Giant Redwoods (note that the Redwoods will be protected). The smaller, younger 4.4 hectares block is on the south side near the Red Walking Track. The larger block of pines that will be removed will be replaced with native species starting with volunteer working bees in May/June 2020. The tracks will also be re-established and opened to the public.
The Park Trust Board is putting the safety of the community at the forefront of the operations, working closely with Pan Pac Forest Products in ensuring a robust harvest and safety management plan. A comprehensive fire safety code will be implemented that dictates what can be done, as well as operating hours, relative to the fire code at the time. Mana Whenua, QEII National Trust and Trees That Count have been involved in the project, and both Hastings District Council and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council have been consulted on the project and are fully supportive of the Trust’s intentions.
“We will endeavour to re-open the tracks as soon as possible, once the logging operations are complete. We realise this will be a great inconvenience to our park users, and sincerely apologise for this interruption to your daily or weekly excursions to the Park,” commented Mike Devonshire. ‘’However we are confident that this short term disruption will create magnificent long term gains.’’
Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst adds support and encouragement to the project. She affirms that “while there will be some short term disruptions for park users, it is an amazing legacy project for our community, for our whanau, for the long-term, and for our future generations to enjoy.”
Te Mata Park Trust Board welcomes individuals and groups to make contact if they wish to join our volunteer working bees for the upcoming planting days. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your interest.
Donations are being accepted at https://gift-a-tree-to-te-mata-park.raisely.com/ in order to fund the planting of native trees and revegetate these sections of the park.
For further information, please contact the Park Manager Emma Buttle on email.
More detailed information, including a map of the tracks affected, the details around logging trucks and our project video please click HERE.