Aratu Forests signs long-term planting agreement

Wednesday 9 Jun 2021

Native forest barriers will be planted on the East Coast in a game-changing initiative to protect waterways against forestry slash and silt in future storms. East Coast landowner Aratu Forests has signed a 90-year agreement that gives environmental land use business eLandNZ the right to plant and manage areas that are no longer suitable for production forestry.

It follows two years of research and negotiation after masses of forestry debris inundated Tolaga Bay during a storm in 2018. The Riparian Project will involve removing slash from hillsides and landings, with plans to one day turn these offcuts into a “valuable export”. The other element is to stabilise land that has been harvested by creating permanent forests within all riparian zones, steep and unstable areas and environmentally sensitive areas. eLandNZ will start planting permanent native forest barriers on approximately 180 hectares of Aratu estate inland of Tolaga Bay this year.

Aratu Forests chief executive Neil Woods said the company was “voluntarily investing” in the initiative because it was the right thing to do, and stood to deliver long-term benefits for the environment, the community “and our company”.

eLandNZ had a proven track record in sustainable land management, having successfully delivered a number of projects throughout New Zealand, he said.

eLandNZ managing director Sheldon Drummond said it was a “game-changer” for New Zealand's forestry industry. “It hasn't been done before. It hasn't been contemplated seriously by plantation forest owners in New Zealand.”

In a presentation to Gisborne District Councillors last week, Mr Drummond said they expected it to make “positive disruptive changes” to the industry.

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Source: Gisborne Herald

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