5/09/2018 12:00:00 a.m.
5 September 2018
A 1978 investment in forestry land by joint regional councils has come to fruition with the recent sale of four forestry blocks reducing debt for the Whanganui community.
Four Whanganui District forestry blocks, jointly owned by Whanganui District Council (95.09%), Ruapehu District Council (3.93%) and South Taranaki District Council (0.98%) have been purchased by Summit Forests New Zealand Limited for $13M.
The blocks are Te Ara To Waka, Tauwhare, McNabs and Siceleys. The sale includes the land and tree crops.
The blocks were bought by the councils as an investment in 1978 and planting began a year later. Radiata pine was planted in anticipation of increased demand for wood within 20 or 30 years and to demonstrate the viability of pine as a crop for the erosion-prone, steep sandy soils found in the Whanganui District.
The venture also helped create jobs and opened up a new industry for the Whanganui District.
“The forestry portfolio has been an interesting story which has unfolded over the last 40 or so years with past and present Mayors and Councillors across our region who have been passionate about the entry into the forestry business in the Whanganui District.
“The venture has met its objectives by pioneering ‘big forestry’ in our region and proved that growing pine was viable in our district,” says Whanganui District Council Chief Executive Kym Fell.
As part of consultation for the Council’s 2015-25 Long term Plan, the community was asked what it thought about selling Council-owned forests and there was general support for the sale.
Mr Fell says the proceeds of the sale will go towards reducing the new wastewater treatment plant debt, which will help make it more affordable for the community.
Summit Forests New Zealand is a subsidiary of Japan-based multi-national Sumitomo Corporation. Summit has over 42,000ha under management primarily in Northland but is looking forward to firmly establishing its business activities in the Whanganui region.
“A focus for the company will be to gain certification under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which requires a high standard of environmental and social responsibility when managing forests. This will be welcome news for domestic processing as there is a strong demand for FSC certified wood in the area,” says General Manager, Summit Forests New Zealand, Henare Walker.
“Sumitomo Corporation has a proud 100-year history working in many communities around the globe and the wider group dates back over 430 years. Summit intends to continue this focus with the FSC certification as well as other initiatives in the region,” says Mr Walker.