With the flurry of activity to purchase Tāne's Rest and the push to make the most of the summer and autumn weather we now understand what we have to do to make the property ecologically sustainable. Now we must turn our thoughts to how we might make the project financially sustainable.
Our pine trees are the obvious source of revenue, but as they are only three years old, harvesting income is a long way in the future. The first rotation of pines were also planted before the 1989 cutoff date for the emissions trading scheme therefore we do not qualify for carbon credits.
Our plantation area is considered a pre-1989 forest so if the trees were not replanted after harvesting a deforestation levy would have had to be paid. Instead we must keep this area covered in forest and get no credit for doing so even though the trees will absorb tonnes of carbon dioxide over their life.
Clear felling is the traditional method of harvesting plantation forests in New Zealand and it is ecologically devastating. The trees stabilise the land and gradually develop an understorey of native plants that support many species of wildlife. Then just as things are looking great the whole lot is obliterated. On steep country this means storms generate slips, sediment and pine debris washes into rivers and weeds like gorse and pampas grass quickly colonise the disturbed ground.
We have resolved to never clear fell the forest again.
There is another way. Using a continuous cover, closed canopy forest model, as practised very successfully in Britain and Europe, we will log our forest on a sustainable yield basis. By moving to a low volume, high value harvesting plan, we believe that what we produce will be more valuable and will avoid clear felling.
This is our direction. We have logging infrastructure in place with tracks, benches and a loading site. We are reasonable close to a port, we have logging expertise close at hand and when our trees are grown we will be able to harvest to the best log prices. We will have to invest wisely in silviculture and forest management with the aim being to produce the highest value timber that we can, and we will have to maintain the infrastructure.
It is a pity we can't get carbon credits so because we can't be bigger we just have to be smarter.
This blog is the ongoing story of our piece of paradise on the East Cape we have named Tāne's Rest. Visit our About pages to read more about our project, and feel free to leave a comment on any of our posts.
Uawa County existed for 45 years from 1 December 1918 to 1 April 1964 before merging with Cook County. Click on the map to download a copy.