Radiata Pines used to be most common species in the southern Catchpool Valley, planted by the NZ Forest Service in the 1970s-1980s. Most pines have since been harvested and native bush planted instead.
Independent company IFS Growth will be managing the harvest operations of the last commercial pines in the valley on Public Conservation Land (PCL). Earthworks are expected to start from 7 October 2022, and harvest commencement is expected from 24 October 2022.
The Department of Conservation and IFS Growth are working with local schools and neighbours to ensure a safe and successful harvest. DOC will actively monitor the impacts, with the contractor using a low impact harvesting technique.
The harvest is expected to take 4-6 months and will take place over the dryer summer months. Harvest will stop for a short period around the Christmas period in line with Wellington port closures. During summer, all operations will be carried out in accordance with rural fire authority guidelines.
Unauthorised visitors are not permitted on the site at any time, as harvesting sites and the operational area within Catchpool are extremely hazardous places. The harvest area will be closed to public access for the duration of the harvest (please see attached map).
Catchpool carpark and adjacent tracks and campsite remain open to public access. Signage on site will clarify which areas will be closed to the public, and DOC asks the public to please respect the operational forest areas that are closed for the duration of the harvest.
All operations in relation to the harvest, including harvesting, earthworks, and cartage, will be carried out in accordance with the National Environment Standard for Plantation Forestry, which became effective in 2018. This ensures all forestry activities must be undertaken consistently nationwide with industry best practice.
The Department is working together with the local iwi and conservation trusts on options to return the harvested site to native species, as well as eradicating the last wilding conifers that are still present.