The record amount of rainfall in January and February has delayed the completion of forest clearance on 11ha of Auckland Council land near Leigh until next summer.
Contractor Woodbank began harvesting the pine trees between Ti Point and Leigh Roads last July and was due to finish the job between January and March.
However, although workers managed to fell 80 per cent of the trees, exceptionally heavy rains in the early part of this year scuppered any chances of finishing the job. Woodbank founder and director Darrin Collett says the wet weather played havoc with this and other local jobs.
“We missed the season; every couple of weeks there was a cyclone,” he says.
They need six weeks of dry weather before they can restart cutting the Ti Point Road trees to minimise the risk of environmental damage to Whangateau Harbour.
“There’s 20 per cent left and it’s all coastal. If it wasn’t dry, that would mean sediment into the harbour, and we’re not going to have that, so it will be next summer,” Darrin says.
Once the land, which is zoned Rural Coastal, has been cleared, its future remains uncertain. Auckland Council said that, potentially, a limited number of lifestyle blocks could be developed on the land, but this would require resource consents and a large area of revegetation planting to be established.
In addition, a thorough risk assessment would be required, since the site was formerly used for landfill and, before that, quarrying.
“For example, the former quarry sites – which were subsequently landfilled – require specific geotechnical risk assessment,” a Council spokesman said. “The catchments around the former quarry and landfill sites are steep and there are stormwater design and performance issues to consider as part of an overall risk assessment.”
He added that the landfill sites would also require further investigation “to better understand the risks and opportunities in any future development of the land, which there are no plans for at present”.
The forest was planted 25 years ago and was originally due to be harvested in 2013. However, the discovery of kauri snails, a protected species, led to its postponement and some 50 snails and 22 eggs were subsequently discovered and relocated to Auckland Zoo.