Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Fire prevention critical but forest operations will continue

17 December 2015

Fire prevention critical but forest operations will continue

Forest operations will continue in Nelson and Marlborough forests during summer, except when the fire risk is at its highest.

Andrew Karalus, estate manager for Nelson Management Limited, says providing continuous work is important for those working in the industry and it enables the industry to attract and retain highly skilled people.

“It’s a trade-off to some extent. The risk of fire can never be totally eliminated, but there are probably 1500 people working in forests in the region who rely on year-round work for their livelihoods. Then there are the servicing firms, the trucking companies and wood processors – there are a lot of locals who rely on a steady wood flow for their income.”

Mr Karalus says the weather conditions that led to the recent Parsons Road, Wairau Valley fire were not unusual. The fire risk at the time was code blue – midway on the five step code – so the outbreak and its severity came as a surprise.

“For 15 years we have been successfully operating without any major fires under conditions where the fire risk has been much more severe than we have had so far this summer. We will learn more from the latest events and we are tapping into expert advice to find out what happened and to improve our controls.”

He says the forest fire danger codes, which were developed as a collaboration between the forest industry and two Rural Fire Authorities have been under review for six months. The codes have been found to be pretty sound. However more work needs to be done to respond to the conditions under which a fire is more likely to start and spread.

“Typically, in a drought such as we had last summer, we reach conditions of code red. We don’t have anyone felling or working in the cut-over forest during the heat of the day. Smoking and fires are of course totally banned. After crews leave for the day, someone stays behind to check that the site is completely safe and nothing develops into a fire,” Mr Karalus says.

“More challenging is the highly changeable weather we are experiencing at present, where periods of high-risk come and go during the day. We need to be able to identify when this is happening and respond quickly to avoid fire starts.”

Mr Karalus says the forest industry takes fire prevention extremely seriously and has a highly skilled workforce who are ready to respond to rural fires in the region. Until recently he was chair of the Waimea Rural Fire Authority.

“We have a vested interest of course. We have people working in our forests and neighbours whose lives and property can be put at risk by fire. Then there are the trees lost and the cost of putting a fire out.”

He says the forest industry is fortunate to have export markets that will take fire damaged logs from mature trees, albeit at a discount. Nelson Forests was also fortunate that most of the trees affected by the recent fire were a harvestable age – younger trees would have been a total write-off.

Also, on most of the 1250 hectares affected, the fire swept through the undergrowth leaving the trees intact, apart from some charring to the base of the stems. On other areas where the fire got into the crowns of the trees, the logs will have no value.

Mr Karalus thanks all those who helped control the Parsons Road fire and those who were inconvenienced by the fire and the control operations.

“Our forestry crews were heavily involved in this. They also provide much of the workforce involved in the control of other rural fires. Only about 5 per cent of rural fires actually involve plantation forests.”

He cautions everyone living or holidaying in Nelson-Marlborough or anywhere on the east coast of both islands during this El Nino summer to take the fire risk extremely seriously.

“Fires travel fast in light dry fuels like forest prunings, long grass and scrub. They move extremely fast uphill. Under windy conditions they are very difficult to control and often are only stopped when a change in wind direction or the onset of rain enables the fire fighters to gain the upper hand.”


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

New Reports: Flood Risk From Rain And Sea Under Climate Change

One report looks at what would happen when rivers are flooded by heavy rain and storms, while the other examines flooding exposure in coastal and harbour areas and how that might change with sea-level rise.

Their findings show that across the country almost 700,000 people and 411,516 buildings worth $135 billion are presently exposed to river flooding in the event of extreme weather events...

There is near certainty that the sea will rise 20-30 cm by 2040. By the end of the century, depending on whether global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, it could rise by between 0.5 to 1.1 m, which could add an additional 116,000 people exposed to extreme coastal storm flooding. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Commerce Commission Fuel Report

The interim Commerce Commission report on the fuel industry will do nothing to endear the major oil companies to the New Zealand public... More>>


Emergency Govt Bill: Overriding Local Licensing For The Rugby

“It’s pretty clear some clubs are having difficulty persuading their district licensing committees to grant a special licence to extend their hours for this obviously special event, and so it makes sense for Parliament to allow clubs to meet a community desire." More>>


Leaving Contract Early: KiwiBuild Programme Losing Another Top Boss

Ms O'Sullivan began a six-month contract as head of KiwiBuild Commercial in February, but the Housing Ministry has confirmed she has resigned and will depart a month early to take up a new job. More>>


Proposed National Policy Statement: Helping Our Cities Grow Up And Out

“We need a new approach to planning that allows our cities to grow up, especially in city centres and around transport connections. We also have to allow cities to expand in a way that protects our special heritage areas, the natural environment and highly productive land." More>>


Ombudsman's Report: Ngāpuhi Elder 'Shocked' By Conditions At Ngawha Prison

A prominent Ngāpuhi elder is shocked to find inmates at Ngawha Prison are denied water and forced to relieve themselves in the exercise yard... Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has released a report highly critical of conditions at the Northland prison. More>>


Promises: Independent Election Policy Costing Unit A Step Closer

The creation of an entity to provide political parties with independent and non-partisan policy costings is a step closer today, according to Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Associate Finance Minister James Shaw. More>>


School's In: Primary And Intermediate Principals Accept New Offer

Primary and intermediate school principals have voted to accept a new settlement from the Ministry of Education, which includes entrenched pay parity with secondary principals. More>>


IPCA On 'Rawshark' Investigation: Multiple Police Failings In Hager Searches Confirmed

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that the Police's unlawful search of Nicky Hager's property in October 2014 resulted from an unwitting neglect of duty and did not amount to misconduct by any individual officer... More>>


Broadcasting Standards: Decisions On Coverage Of Mosque Attacks

The Authority upheld one of these complaints, finding that the use of extensive excerpts from the alleged attacker’s livestream video on Sky News New Zealand had the potential to cause significant distress to audiences in New Zealand, and particularly to the family and friends of victims, and the wider Muslim community. More>>




InfoPages News Channels