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Concerns over the Queenstown Lakes District Council's plans to allow for logging in three prominent forests around Queenstown have been raised by submitters.
Under the new designations, more than 164ha at Ben Lomond Forest, more than 413ha at Queenstown Hill Forest and more than 70ha at Coronet Forest would primarily be used for planting, tending, managing and harvesting trees for timber and wood production.
Lakes Environmental received 10 submissions before the cut-off on Thursday, including neutral and opposed submissions from the Arrowtown Village Association, the Department of Conservation, Kiwi Birdlife Park, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT), Wakatipu High School, the Otago Regional Council and support from tourism operators Skyline Gondola and Ziptrek.
NZHPT southern region general manager Malcolm Duff outlined the trust's concerns over archaeological sites being harmed by felling.
However, QLDC district forester Briana Pringle said findings of historical significance were already protected under the New Zealand Environmental Code of Practice for Plantation Forestry (NZECPPF) which requires that harvesting must stop as soon as any site of historical, archaeological or significance to Maori is found or suspected.
"The way that we will be harvesting under the forestry code we have to abide by the rules which will probably cross out a lot of submitters' concerns," she said.
Noise, traffic and pupil and staff safety concerns held by the Ministry of Education on behalf of Wakatipu High School would also be covered under forestry best practice guidelines.
The Ben Lomond and Queenstown Hill forests had been logged but resource consents costing up to $10,000 have been required.
"Under the new proposal, council will be able to harvest existing trees in the reserve which presents an obvious time and cost saving to council and the community and will ultimately create a more sustainable forestry operation," she said.
However, council would still need to provide an outline waiver plan for any logging operation, which must adhere to NZECPPF rules. The Coronet Forest was the only one which would be clear-felled, when the Douglas firs came to maturity in 15 to 20 years.
Queenstown Hill and Ben Lomond would never be clear-felled. Instead, a technique of "small harvest clearing" would be employed, with 3ha cleared and replaced with native and non-wilding species - a rotational technique which helps control wilding pine.
If the proposal does go through, council would want to begin harvesting as soon as it could get a "good return".
Ms Pringle said logs would be transported on the existing network of logging roads around the forests.