The Department of Conservation (DOC) will temporarily close a section of the Hauraki-Coromandel’s Opoutere Beach Recreation Reserve to allow for the felling of more than 350 deliberately poisoned pine trees.
DOC says the pine trees are up to 30 metres tall and are mostly wilding pines that have spread from trees originally planted as windbreaks.
It says the death and decay of the trees has created a hazard to people walking through the reserve, through falling branches, as well as contributing to the fire risk at the site.
DOC’s Hauraki Operations Manager, Avi Holzapfel says the condition of the trees stems from a deliberate and unlawful poisoning incident.
“We’ve had concerns about the health and safety risk posed by these trees, and now we’ve obtained the support, the funding and the plan for safe and efficient felling,” he says.
The closure of the reserve will commence on 20 November, with the felling project estimated to take three weeks.
While the work is being undertaken, part of the reserve will be closed to the public. This will include the currently closed area at the southern end of the reserve, the main DOC track to the beach, and the northern side of the main track where some pines also need to be felled.
It is anticipated at this stage the track closure will be in place for 10 working days. The track may be reopened earlier if it is safe to do so.
A special Heritage New Zealand authority has been obtained to allow for the pine felling work, which will be carried out by experienced specialist contractors.
The Heritage NZ Authority, combined with restricted access to the site, means the pine trees will felled, and left in situ to decompose.