Native forest restoration draws a crowd

Safeguarded from further depletion, a Southland native forest remnant has been opened to the public.

About 40 people braved the elements on Saturday for the official opening of the Oreti Totara Dune Forest near Invercargill.

The 81ha property was bought by the Native Forest Restoration Trust in May, with the intention of returning the farmed land to forest over the next 50 years.

Trust chairman Tim Oliver said it was a big call to buy the land, but the family of the previous owner wanted it to be restored.

"There really appeared to be no other group able to make the decision in the short time available."

About $400,000 was given to the trust to go towards the purchase, of $810,000 raised for the $1.5million property.

About 40 people attended the official opening of the Oreti Totara Dune Forest near Invercargill...
About 40 people attended the official opening of the Oreti Totara Dune Forest near Invercargill on Saturday. PHOTO: LAURA SMITH
Otatara resident Russell Erskine, who died in April this year, gave $50,000.

"That gave us huge encouragement to carry on," Mr Oliver said.

Mr Erskine’s grandson, Tim, was helping with pest control.

Mr Oliver said he and founding trustee Geoff Davidson were astounded by the growth and regeneration since they were at the property in March.

As well as donations, carbon credits helped with buying properties such as the Otatara one, Mr Davidson said.

The trust accrued credits from its properties, such as its Rimutaka reserve in the North Island.

Honorary ranger Maurice Rodway helped oversee the Otatara forest’s restoration.

The land was permanently protected through the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, meaning it could never be harvested, cleared or developed.

The property’s totara forest on sand dunes is valuable from a conservation perspective, as it is classified as nationally endangered.


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