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DOMAIN BOARD., Issue 8032, 8 October 1889
A meeting was held this morning; present—Messrs G. G. Russell, M. Sullivan (Mayor of South Dunedin), J. Stenhouso (Mayor of St. Hilda), E. B. Cargill, and H. Gourley (Mayor of Dunedin). In the absence of Mr Maitland, who had been called out of town, Mr Russell was voted to the chair. THE SANDHILLS, The Chairman said that after visiting the Beach it was found that the sea was making such inroads and the consequences were likely to bo so serious that it was deemed advisable to write to the Government asking for the services of the District Engineer. The following reply had been received from Mr H, J. H. Elliott, Under-Secretary for Crown Lands, under date 28th September;— Referring to your letter of the 2nd August, applying for the services of the District Engineer in connection with the washing away of portions of the sandhills, I have the honor to inform you that Mr Bell, the Engineer for Defences, states that the erection of the battery at the Ocean Beach has nothing to do with the encroachment of the sea, and that certain further excavations which were projected have been suspended until he can visit the place himself. Mr Bell, when next in Dunedin, will be happy to consult with you and certain members of local bodies, and if the Engineer-in-chief is also there at the time ho will further advise in the matter.
It was evident that the taking away of sand at the battery had had the effect of causing breaches to bo made in the Beach. However, the Board had better wait till Mr Bell came down. It was a fact, he understood, that the sand was all moving about the battery. Mr Gourlky said that it was, and it did not want an engineer to see that the excavations round the gun had caused damage to the sandhills. Something should really be done.
The Chairman remarked that the Board had no power to do anything, and no funds, and all they could do was to call the attention of Government to what was taking place. When Mr Bell came down the Board ought to meet and appoint members to visit the Beach with him. Mr Cargill suggested that they should write again asking when the engineer was coming, and stating that the mischief was still going on. It was a matter that could not be postponed indefinitely. It was resolved to carry out Mr Cargill’s suggestion. FIXING DRIFTING SANDS. Mr William Smaill wrote under date September .6 enclosing an extract from Louden’s work on ‘ Gardening,’ and asking permission for the proposed Tomahawk Road Board to proceed with a modification of Bermontier’s plan for reclaiming portion of the hills, should the decided Board undertake the task. Mr Sessions (secretary) said that Mr Maitland had given the necessary permission, subject to the decision of the Board. It was resolved to confirm Mr Maitland’s action.
Mr Steniiousf. said that the work alluded to by Mr Smaill had been already commenced.
The extract referred to by Mr Smaill is as follows: Pines and firs were seldom planted in France till about 1789, when M. Bremontier, who, as administrator of forests in that year, conceived the idea of using these trees to cover the immense tracts of barren sand which exist in many parts of France. The most remarkable of those downs are those between Dunkirk and Nienport, between Calais and Boulogne, aad those between the rivers Adour and Gironde. The latter are by far the most important, and Bremontier commenced his operations in the Gulf of Gascony in 1789. The downs there are composed of drifting sands, covering 300 square miles. Bremontier compares the surface of this immense track to a sea, which, when agitated to fury by tempest, had been suddenly fixed and changed to sand. It offered nothing to the eye but a monotonous repetition of white wavy mountains perfectly destitute of vegetation. In times of violent storms of wind the surface of these downs was entirely changed, what were hills of sand often becoming valleys and the contrary. The sand on these occasions was often carried up into the interior of the country, covering cultivated fields, villages, and even entire forests. This takes place so gradually (by the sand sweeping along the surface, and thus raising it, or falling from the air in a shower of particles so fine as to bo scarcely perceptible) that nothing is destroyed. The sand gradually rises among crops as if they were inundated with water; and the herbage and the tops of trees appear quite green and healthy, even to the moment of being overwhelmed with sand, which is so very fine as to resemble that used in England in hour - g'asscs. (See Dictionnairc dcs Enttx ct tles ForcU, tome i., p 8/6.) The first thing that M. Bremontier did was to fix this sea of sand, and the process he pursued was as remarkable for its simplicity as for its complete success, It consisted in sowing on the surface seeds of the common broom, mixed with those of pinaster, commencing on the side next the sea, or on that from which the wind generally blows, and sowing in a narrow zone in a direction at right angles to that of the wind. The first-sown zone is protected by a lino of hurdles, and this serves as a protection to the second, beyond which another lino of hurdles is placed, so that the second may protect the third, and so on, till the whole breadth of the downs is covered. From 41b to 51b of broom seed, and from 11b to 2lb of pinaster seed, are sown per acre; and as soon as the sowing of each acre is completed the ground is covered with branches of pines and other trees, with the leaves on, brought from the neighboring woods. These branches are laid down in a regular manner in the direction of tho wind, overlapping each other, and being fastened on each side to the hurdles; while in some places, where the ground is a good deal exposed, rods are laid down and fastened to the hurdles, so as to keep the branches in their proper place. In this manner tho ground is thatched wherever tho seeds are sown; and where branches of trees cannot bo procured, straw, rushes, reeds, or seaweeds are used. When, however, these comparatively light materials are employed, it is found advisable to make the fences between the zones of boards, or strongly wattled hurdles, as hurdles not wattled are not found sufficient to prevent the wind from tearing up thatching of such light materials as traw or seaweed. In six weeks or two months after sowing tho broom seeds will bo found to have produced plants Oin high, and in the course of a year they will bo 2ft high, though tho pipaster plants will probably not bo more than 3in high, and it is seven or eight years before they overtop tho broom, which on these downs often attains a height of 10ft or 12ft. When tho pines are about twelve years old they have generally suffocated the broom plants, and it is found necessary to thin them out. When tho young pines are cut down they are used for the purpose of thatching downs not yet recovered, while tho thicker parts of the stems and roots are burnt for making tar and charcoal, the selfsown seeds having furnished the downs with a progeny to succeed them. In 1811 a commission appointed by the French Government to examine these downs found on them 12,500 acres of thriving plantations. These plantations, and others in tho landes of Bordeaux and between thatcityand Bayonne, are therecalled pignadas, and constitute tho chief riches of the inhabitants, who are almost entirely supported by the preparation of turpentine, resin, tar, pitch, and charcoal from the pinaster forests.—(‘Arb. But.,’ vol. iv., page 2,221.) ACCOUNTS. An account for L3O for repairing gaps in the sandhills was passed for payment. Mr Stbnhodre said that embankments of clay had been put across by the Racecourse Hotel, and it seemed to be a good job.
DOMAIN BOARD., Issue 8032, 8 October 1889
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