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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (2020) 65(3): 30–35
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Refereed article
History of pine forestry in the Pelorus/Te Hoiere catchment and the Marlborough Sounds

Stephen C. Urlich *,1 and Sean J. Handley 2

1 Lecturer, Department of Environmental Management at Lincoln University. Corresponding author:
2 Marine Ecologist, NIWA, Nelson.
*Corresponding author.

Abstract: The harvesting of radiata pine (Pinus radiata) plantations in the Pelorus/Te Hoiere catchment and the Marlborough Sounds is contributing to excessive sedimentation into coastal waters, although the timing of when this commenced is subject to debate. Here we present a history of radiata pine to document trends in forest establishment in the Pelorus/Te Hoiere catchment and the Marlborough Sounds derived from the scientific literature, newspaper articles, local histories and recollections of retired foresters. We identify that radiata pine trees were planted primarily as ornamentals, shelterbelts and woodlots from the late 1800s, with plantings increasing after the 1913 Royal Commission on Forestry. The first commercial plantations were Farnham Forest in Queen Charlotte Sound/Totaranui in the 1930s and the Rai State Forest in the Pelorus/Te Hoiere catchment in 1940. Commercial plantings expanded with forestry encouragement loans from the 1960s. There are now ca. 26,420 ha of radiata pine plantations in the contributing catchments to the Marlborough Sounds. We identify that the majority of radiata plantations are on Class 7 land in the Pelorus/Te Hoiere and Kaituna catchments, which are the largest contributing catchments to the Marlborough Sounds. These areas have soils highly susceptible to erosion, which is exacerbated by vegetation clearance. The industry has reached a point of near continuous harvest over extensive areas on steep hillsides. This means that the window of vulnerability to erosion (five to eight years after harvest) is always open somewhere across the landscape.
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