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Forestry cutting rights go to market

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Real estate agents L. J. Hooker have been appointed as the marketing agents for the sale of cutting rights to Greater Wellington Regional Council’s metro and Wairarapa forests.

The sale of exotic trees was consulted on through the 2012 - 22 Long Term Plan (LTP) process. The Regional Council resolved last December to sell the cutting rights for a 60 year period, on the proviso this would not have an impact on the activities of recreational users of the forests.

Marketing is scheduled to begin mid June and will include local and international media and promotions. Tenders close 22 August.

The Regional Council manages three forests in Wairarapa totalling 1,842 hectares and nine blocks in other parts of the region (Metro forests) totalling 3,588 hectares. Their total value of the cutting rights has been estimated (valuation 2012) to be around $28.5 million.

Wellington Region forests were planted for a number of reasons. In some cases the purchase and planting of badly eroded farmland was intended to stabilise land and reduce siltation in water catchment areas. The forests are funded by debt which is projected to increase to around $35 million by 2022.

Chairperson of the Regional Council Environmental Wellbeing Committee, Barbara Donaldson says the decision to sell the cutting rights was not taken lightly.

"We needed to consider a variety of views raised by submitters to the LTP as well as the advice of experts in the industry.

"Access was one of the main concerns people had as well as the environmental impacts of logging such as siltation and erosion and sustainable management of the forests. Council has put provisions into the contract to ensure the contractor manages these effects and Greater Wellington Regional Council will continue to employ a forestry ranger to maintain an overview of the contract and ensure recreational and forestry activity and environmental issues are balanced.

"The sale of community owned assets was considered at length. We were advised that given market conditions, it was unlikely that small scale forestry operations would realise steady and profitable returns for some time to come. As debt continued to escalate Council resolved to sell the cutting rights and put the proceeds toward the debt.

"The main thing is that the land remains in our ownership - it is only the current trees that are being sold. In 60 years time the land will return to Council management" Councillor Donaldson says.

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