By CASS MARRETT
The once-controversial early harvest of Coronet Forest is 70% complete and expected to be finished early next year.
The commercial forest, on the slopes above Millbrook Resort, near Arrowtown, was established between 1984 and 1996 and is jointly owned by Queenstown and Central Otago councils.
It had initially been due to be logged over 12 years from 2029, but in a contentious decision in 2018, the council decided to bring that forward because it was viewed as a significant seed source contributing to the wilding problem on neighbouring indigenous tussock grassland.
Council media man Sam White says they’re also preparing a procurement plan for replanting the 172.5-hectare site which should be presented to councillors in June.
White says pending approval, a registration of interest for the tender could go out soon after.
‘‘Our current plan is to re-grass the site for two years after harvest which will allow any
Douglas fir seeds to germinate and be removed before the site is replanted with native species,’’ White says.
In 2020, when work eventually started to clear the block, an informal workshop held to discuss possible recreational uses for the land was attended by Queenstown Trails Trust,
Queenstown Mountain Bike Club, the Wakatipu Walkers, Whakatipu Reforestation Trust,
Arrowtown Village Association and the Wakatipu Riding and Pony clubs.
White says council will ramp up community engagement ‘‘to ensure the future use of the site reflects community needs, and benefits the area’s biodiversity and cultural values’’.