Thursday, May 23, 2024

Contract to ‘recloak’ Coronet Forest awarded

The contract to deliver an aspirational vision to “recloak” Coronet Forest with native planting has been awarded to Te Tapu o Tāne and e3Scientific Limited by Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Council General Manager Community Services, Ken Bailey said the contract announcement followed the successful harvest of Coronet Forest.

“The early harvest was carried out between January 2020 and May 2023, removing over 90,000 tonnes of timber from the site and with it, a major wilding source,” Mr Bailey said.

“Getting rid of this wilding source is a huge win as we work to eliminate the spread of the pest species Douglas fir. And importantly it leaves a blank canvas for regeneration.

“The return of native species such as tawhai rauriki (mountain beech), kōwhai, kōhūhū (pittosporum) and kapuka (broadleaf) to their rightful place will help to restore the biodiversity values of the area, which is a key goal of our Climate and Biodiversity Plan,” he said.

Mayor, Glyn Lewers, acknowledged the importance of partnering with Te Tapu o Tāne to regenerate the area. 

“This partnership is bigger than a regeneration project. Ultimately this is about creating relationships and connections as we work together to restore and protect our local natural environment for generations to come,” Mayor Lewers said.

“It provides a unique opportunity to be a leading example of how ecological restoration can be successfully achieved within the Otago region and throughout Aotearoa New Zealand,” he said.

Te Tapu o Tāne Chief Executive Officer, Jana Davis said it was a very special announcement for the organisation on behalf of Ngāi Tahu kī Murihiku and acknowledged Kāi Tahu ki Otago for all their support.

“The Coronet Forest kaupapa is all about building on the partnership between QLDC, Mana Whenua, Te Tapu o Tāne and Citycare Property, as well as the kaimahi at e3Scientific.”

“On behalf of all our partners it is a privilege to be delivering this kaupapa for our hometown and building the Whakatipu Basin towards a deafening dawn chorus of taonga manu (native birds) and providing access to the largest indigenous reforestation project in the history of the basin. He waka eke noa, we are all in this waka together.

“The kaupapa will provide opportunities supporting regional development including local jobs and training.

“We plan to hold a few wānanga (workshops) over the next 12 months as we get the site ready to come alive with eco-sourced trees and plants and scale up the intensive pest control operation. The Queenstown community have spent the last few years watching the pine forest come down, it’s going to be great seeing the new direction for the maunga (mountain),” he said.

e3Scientific Managing Director, Glenn Davis said he was looking forward to working alongside Te Tapu o Tāne and QLDC to reinstate a beech forest to the slopes of the Coronet Range.

“Coronet Forest stands on the shoulders of a significant network of ecological restoration work that has developed in the district over the last 20 years,” he said. 

“These projects have provided the ecological community with the skills, expertise and confidence to reinstate local biodiversity at a landscape scale.

“The role of e3Scientific is to bring together and impart the knowledge we have gained to maximise the performance of the plantings and ensure that the project leads the delivery of large scale ecological restoration in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

The first year of work involves site preparation and planning. Native planting is expected to begin in March 2025 and take between five to seven years.  

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