Coronet Forest felling confirmed

Coronet Forest, near Arrowtown. Photo: David Williams
Coronet Forest, near Arrowtown. Photo: David Williams
Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) is pushing ahead with its controversial early harvest and revegetation of Coronet Forest.

The 172.5ha of Douglas fir on the slopes above Millbrook Golf Resort, near Arrowtown, was established as a commercial forest between 1984 and 1996.

It was due to be logged over 12 years from 2029 but is now viewed as a significant seed source contributing to the wilding pine problem on neighbouring indigenous tussock grassland.

The suggestion it should be felled early attracted both support and criticism from various nearby landowners.

Some claimed a regional strategy to tackle the seed problem needed to be in place first and others questioned the economic sense of the decision.

But Queenstown councillors agreed the logging should be brought forward, and adopted the Coronet Forest Management Plan 2017 in August last year.

Dr Thunes Cloete, QLDC general manager community services, said an outline of the operation has now been prepared.

''This plan contains details of the early harvest and revegetation programme which helps address the wilding pine problem and returns a large area of local landscape to native planting.

''QLDC acknowledges that this decision, although necessary, has seen some resistance. But as well as being a good return on investment the goal is to protect our local natural environment for generations to come.''

Coronet Forest is owned by QLDC and Central Otago District Council (CODC) under a joint venture arrangement. CODC has agreed to the early felling of the forest.

Briana Pringle, QLDC senior parks & reserves officer (forestry), confirmed QLDC had appointed P.F. Olsen Ltd to manage the harvest.

''Our next step in the process is to engage suitably qualified and experienced contractors to undertake harvesting, roading and log cartage services for the harvest.

''We will be doing this over the next few months.''

Funding for the revegetation programme was confirmed as part of the 2018-28 10-year plan by QLDC at its June 2018 meeting.

The draft plan in 2017 attracted 86 submissions, of which 72 (84%), were in support. Public consultation in 2016 found 86% of submitters supported the early harvest.

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