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MILES OF TREES

THE KAINGAROA PLAINS

GOVBRNIMENT ACTIVITIES

GREAT AREA TRANSFORMED

[feom: a cobbebpondent]

To afforest) an area of 200,000 acres of -|l| tussock and {scrub land—about equal to ;|| the area of' the great Wairarapa plain ; ■watered by the Waiohine, Waingawa | and Ruamajfaunga Rivers—represents a' If considerable alteration of the face of Nature. To produce in thirty years, on f the formerly treeless Kaingaroa Plains, a 'M single block of exotic trees covering 312 square miles—not. far short of half the . p area of Stewart Island—obviously must have a meaning in terms of weather, of bird and insect life, terms of natural / conditions generally. Man cannot so alter the landscape without producing physical changes, as well as economic results. The area planted by the State on the Kaingaroa pkiteau is in itself very large, but the over-all measurements of this *1 huge plantation—including roads, tracks, firebreaku, etii.—are greater still. If y oa add to the total given above 9108 acres for waste land;, reserves, etc., 21,016 acres for fire-breaks, and a bslance-to-be-planted $ of 101,172 acnes, you bring the aggregate gazetted area to 329,000 acres, probably one of the biggest plantation units in the Empire, perhzips the biggest. This Kaingaroa plantation not only stretches all the way from the Rotorua-Te Whaiti-Waikare. moana Road .southward to the NapierTaupo Road, but actually overlaps those two highways, having an unpl anted area north of the former and another unplanted area south of the latter. When the scheme is complete the forest of pines will be not far short of a hundred miles long. Already you can travel on one of its interior roads, through established plantation, for fifty miles. The total length of interior roads and tracks is about six hundred miles. Needless to add, considerations o£ fire prevention close <;hese to tie public. These roads and tracks are the veins of a mass of forest which, already in its incomplete form, may be summed up as fifty miles long with an average width of six miles. Such figures speak for themselves. When the conversion to forest of waste, treeless land is proceeding on such a scale, the people of other countries, if not those of our own, take notice. Kaingaroa is the largest of the plantations of the State Forest Service. The next largest is Balmoral in North Canterbury (24*000 acres). After that comes GoldenDowns in Nelson (22,000 acres). The total of all State plantations is 590,000 acres (grass area), of which 347,500 acres have been planted. Kaingaroa has a minimum altitude of 500 feet above sea level, a maximum of 2481. The base camp, Kaingaroa, is at 1800 feet. •. - '

Work Tor Unemployed The political support which tree-planting has received in New Zealand in receiit years is due probably not so much to love of trees (which is rare among politicians) or to faith in the economic return from trees (a matter which most politicians do not attempt to understand) as to a desire to reduce unemployment. Tree-planting represents one of the comparatively easy ways in which to provide relief labour. A policy which aims to make publio money go as far as possible in wages with the least deduction for material costs and overhead cosits, has found tree-planting useful. Otherwise, it is probable that the State would got have been allowed to plant nearly so many trees. There is a much stronger political pull toward spending public money on duplicated transport than toward spending it on forests as a long-te<rra investment. But this political valuation is a theory apart from the merits of tiree-planting, and from its weather aspect and economic importance to posterity.

A Changed Country Forty yeairs ago the many miles of pumice lying between the Rotorua-Waio-tapu-Taupo Road and !he Rangitaiki Valley carried no exotic trees and practically no native trees.. It was a tussock and scrub plateau; under successive showers of erupted matter old forests had been buried, in some places 30ft. deep.-Beyond the Rangitaiki and stretching eastward therefrom to Waikaremoana and the East Coast were the abundant mountain forests of the Urewera. But the monotony of the plateau was eye-wearying. .Now it is an immense sea of pines .with huge stretches of the renowned Douglas fir (Oregon pine) which in one place covers a block of thousands of acres as a pure stand, besides participating in the exotic covering of other blocks. The word transformation is often misapplied, but nothing less describes what has happened to the Kaingaroa s. The real beginning of the Kaingaroa planting was in ,1901; though Waiotapu planting with prison labour, of course,preceded thali. In 1901 the Lands Department experimentally planted five acres of Douglas firs, with a protective ring of insignis (radiiata), at what is now the Kaingaroa base camp. About 1906 the Waiotapu prison camp undertook the care of this and other Kaingaroa plots. In March of last year (1932) the Douglas firs averaged a height' of 81ft. and a diameter of (maximum 19in.); the quicker-growing protective ring of insignia averaged a height of 128 ft. (ranging from 100 ft. to 144 ft.) and a diameter of 2.lft. (diameter breast high). For 30 years' growth the figures speak for themselves.

Animal Life At the outset it was not known whether the bleak Kaingaroa would grow trees; it was taken for granted that notßing else would grow. The trees have now been proved to be a wonderful success. Their influence and shelter have modified the weather effects, and there are now good vegetable gardens and grass paddocks, the latter not free from bush sickness." Smaller native birds like the fantail and the grey warbler seem to have made their permanent homes in • the- exotic trees. Where there are eucalypts the tui is sometimes seen, but the makomako (bellbird) is_ not reported at present. Introduced birds, also are found among tha pines. On the flat areas where the unbroken forest of pines has stamped out the fern there does not seem to be much living, for -the wild pig! but where the plantation falls more or less steeply toward the Rangitaiki, and where there are unplantable ravines and steep faces carrying indigenous growth, also where firebreaks are, the pig may continue to find a living. Possiily the "deer population ( has increased since the forest came, and the wild horses that roamed the treeless plains have adapted themselves to the new order of things ; both are in s. position to increase, subject to control by man. Other subjects of control are rabbits and hares, which have the trees and scrub for shelter and the roads and breaks and open places for pasture. Scarcity of Water Both horses and deer make their own tracks through the plantation, and the former generally lead to water, which is a matter of importance on the thirsty Kaingaroa uplands. This scarcity of water is one of the great factors against farming the drier uplands, and in favour of trees. _

Early in March the berries on the tutu along the roads and breaks and' open places were ripening, and the little preen " white-eves " were busy in them. Chaffinches, other finches, starlings, and spar; rows were in evidence, also the now rare banded dottrel (charadrius bicinctus) and —still more interesting—\ts young. It seems that the Kainparoa Plains are a> nesting place for the dottrel, which migrates seasonally between coast and hinterland. The dottrel is a pround-nester. And, alas, as one traverses' the roads the longtailed stoat, is occasionally seen dartini across from one side to the other. S® is it a case of doom for the dottrel ? Thi< native bird, according to Oliver, is afl insect-eater and " entirely useful.'*

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZH19330322.2.22

Bibliographic details

MILES OF TREES, New Zealand Herald, Volume LXX, Issue 21447, 22 March 1933

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1,267

MILES OF TREES New Zealand Herald, Volume LXX, Issue 21447, 22 March 1933

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