Forestry 30 years on from Cyclone Bola

Wednesday 21 Mar 2018

Forestry dominates the inland Gisborne district that was the epicentre for Cyclone Bola's metre of rainfall. - But turning up Mata Rd from State Highway 35, south of Tokomaru Bay, the pine tree view is interspersed with farmland, although the farmland soon gets harder to spot.

"It's Class 6 land with a bit of Class 7 at the start but the reverse applies as we get up into the forests with lots of steep and erosion-prone Class 7 with some Class 6," says Kerry Hudson from the Gisborne District Council's soil conservation team.

"Gisborne has a lot of pastoral farming on better examples of Class 7 – that's okay in the long run as long as the farmers are doing enough conservation work and keeping up planting. Steeper and erosion-prone Class 7 gives us problems and needs intensive erosion control: afforestation, reversion and intense pole planting in places.

"We get a lot of shallow slips on the steeper stuff in intense rainfalls, as well as the big slumps where the whole hillside drops out. There have been some beauties out here, no doubt about that."

He says there's often rapid growth of native bush among the radiata.

"I wonder sometimes whether some of the steep places should ever have been planted in trees. Reversion is a much better option for so much of this land. To me, some of it is Class 8. Our worst eroding land was planted initially in pinus radiata to provide stability. Post-harvest, we need to assess if longer term or more permanent trees in places would ensure long-term stability."

After Bola hit the region in March 1988, the Gisborne District Council identified the "worst of the worst" eroding land as Land Overlay 3a. It must be planted with effective tree cover by 2021. Funding is available though the Ministry for Primary Industries' Erosion Control Funding Programme.

Names like Pauariki, Mangaiti, Matanui, Tironui, Waiau and Makomako Forests roll off Hudson's tongue. He says the latter was going to be divided into eight farms by the former Lands and Survey Department, but it was planted in 1981 and most of it has been harvested in the past decade (and replanted).

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Source: Stuff News

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