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New plan supports Akatarawa motorised recreation

News release
23 May 2005

New plan supports motorised recreation
values of Akatarawa Forest

Greater Wellington's Policy, Finance and Strategy Committee adopted the Regional Forest Lands Plan at a meeting earlier this week. The plan governs the management of the Akatarawa and Pakuratahi forests and has been five years in the making. The forests are primarily held as potential water sources for future generations.

Chair of Greater Wellington's Landcare Committee Cr Chris Laidlaw says "the environmental and cultural values of these forests are very high. They contain important forests and wetlands, providing excellent habitat for native plants and animals and as a consequence have high biodiversity values. They're also rich in Maori and European history and the Pakuratahi Forest contains heritage sites of the original Rimutaka railway that are nationally significant."

"The prime management objective of the plan is to maintain and protect those values, ensuring these areas will provide us with water in the future. However, this does not rule out uses that are consistent with these values, such as recreation."

'The Akatarawa Forest provides a remote experience in contrast to our regional parks, which are generally located in semi-rural areas. This year alone the forest has hosted nearly forty 4WD events, ten motorcycle events, including Kapi Mana Motorcycle Club's annual Enduro event and a successful Rotary fundraiser organised by the Horowhenua Motorcycle Club, and the world famous Karapoti Classic. We've also had NZ Army and Police training exercises, scout events, vehicle training and school students learning mountain bike skills."

"The Pakuratahi Forest is well known for the Tunnel Gulley picnic area, a popular spot for families over the years, while the Rimutaka Rail Trail combines the rail formation and heritage features with an easily accessible walking and cycle way. The Big Coast mountain bike race along the rail trail attracted nearly 800 people this year." "The Regional Forest Lands Plan allows us to manage the different environmental and recreational values appropriately," says Cr Laidlaw.

Eastern principal ranger of Greater Wellington's Parks and Forests Fraser Oliver says "We've worked with the Akatarawa Recreation Action Committee (ARAC) for over five years now ensuring that motorised recreation in the Akatarawa Forest is well-managed and consistent with our values. Both Greater Wellington and ARAC advocate the Tread Lightly philosophy of ensuring that motorised recreation has minimal impact on the environment."

"The positive relationships we've developed with them and other motorised recreation groups are very rewarding. The highlight for us has to be the construction of the Orange Hut. Although it was tragically burnt down earlier this year, ARAC are once again instrumental with its imminent rebuilding." Fraser Oliver says that Greater Wellington has recently extended the Kapi Mana Motorcycle Club's lease to enable them to develop and area for children to practice and extend their skills in a safe and controlled environment.

Further information is available online at www.gw.govt.nz.


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