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timber companies in cameroon Harvesting trees on Queen Charlotte Dr - single use only

Harvesting on the block first started five years ago, but had to stop after the road was damaged.
Photo: LDR / Stuff / Anthony Phelps

A forestry company that has been unable to harvest a 600-hectare forest on flood-damaged Queen Charlotte Drive has special clearance to drive seven piloted logging trucks a day on the road.

The block is owned by Tasman Pine Forest, whose chief executive Steve Chandler said they first started harvesting about five years ago.

But following a storm in July 2021, vehicle restrictions of 12.6 metres were introduced on the scenic road, which meant the company could not continue its harvest. An even larger storm in August 2022 worsened the condition of the road.

Despite these restrictions, the odd exception had been made for large vehicles to use the road, such as a milk tanker which was piloted in and out of Linkwater each day.

Chandler said the impact of not being able to harvest the block was starting to affect business.

“We haven’t got the logs that we need to supply local industry and keep our crews going, so we made a special case to the Marlborough District Council,” he said.

“Seven loads a day is just one small crew.”

He said the move was a relief.

“The trees now, they should have been harvested two years ago, and they’re actually getting quite old now, over 30 years.

“Which means that they become quite susceptible to blowing over and causing damage if another cyclone event happens, so it is important for us.

“We’ve actually been quite affected by our ability to work in there. We’ve got a 10-year plan for working in our two Sounds forests. Of course when we can’t do it, that affects our ability to supply and meet our commitments.”

timber companies in cameroon Forestry block on Queen Charlotte Drive

A forestry company has permission to use Queen Charlotte Drive to harvest a forestry block.
Photo: LDR / Stuff / Anthony Phelps

He said their logging truck company, Waimea Contract Carriers, also had fully qualified pilot vehicle staff as well. They needed to pilot vehicles from Linkwater to Havelock.

“The piloting will make the whole operation on public roads safer than if it was just a two lane truck on a state highway.”

He said they have had good support from the council and if any storm was to happen again, they would be happy to stop harvesting, so there was no potential damage to the road.

Marlborough Roads general manager Steve Murrin said the trucks would be piloted in and out, and speed would be restricted.

“They’ll be taking it easy,” Murrin added.

He said any narrow sites were down to one lane anyway, so the trucks would have the whole lane to themselves to do it safely.

“So as long as they operate carefully and take it easy, it should be fine,” he said.

“We’ll be keeping an eye on the logging trucks so if we get a period of wet weather and the road starts deteriorating, we’ll probably be holding them until we get things sorted again.

“So it’s continuously reviewed to make sure they’re not damaging any roads or causing any problems.”

timber companies in cameroon Queen Charlotte Dr - single use only

Areas of Queen Charlotte Drive are still down to one lane following storms in July 2021 and August 2022.
Photo: LDR / Stuff / Anthony Phelps

Meanwhile, work on the road recovery was continuing across the region, including on Queen Charlotte Drive, where a retaining wall on the Picton side of the road was completed last week, Murrin said.

On Kenepuru Rd, maintenance work was continuing in the Elie Bay, Crail Bay and Hopai Bay areas. This included “trimming and compacting” rough areas of the road that were damaged during the storm events, along with spreading and compacting gravel and clearing water tables.

Work on the Sounds Future Access Study, which would put forward a solution for the overall plan to bring the roads back up to scratch, was ongoing.

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