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Essential guide for earthworks in tiger country

22 November 2012

Essential guide for earthworks in tiger country

Forest owners and farmers now have access to detailed information about carrying out earthworks on steep hills that are often prone to erosion -- the tiger country where New Zealand’s plantation forests are increasingly grown.

To harvest those hills, you need highly skilled roading engineers and operators who can construct low-cost, fit-for-purpose, roads, culverts and landings that meet high environmental standards. They in turn need a source of reliable information about what works and what doesn’t work in difficult terrain and across a wide range of soil types.

Launching the New Zealand Forest Road Engineering Manual and associated Operators Guide, associate minister for primary industries Nathan Guy complimented the Forest Owners Association for taking the lead. Principal editor Brett Gilmore was praised for putting a huge amount of work into the project.

“The purpose of the Forest Road Engineering Manual is to provide a one-stop shop for information on all aspects of the planning, design, construction and maintenance of unsealed forest roads,” said Mr Guy.

“Road engineering is one of the most technically challenging and expensive parts of forestry. This manual documents best practice and provides all forest owners – large and small – with access to important information."

He said the publications were well-timed, because many owners who established forests in the 1990s are starting to make plans for developing their infrastructure. Many of these will be smaller owners harvesting for the first time.

The annual harvest is forecast to climb to a projected 35 million cubic metres a year from the early 2020s. This could equate to 14,000 km of new harvest access roads in the next 10 years, at a cost of around a billion dollars.

“The guidance on sediment control and erosion will be of particular value to these owners, and links nicely with the National Policy Statement for freshwater with a wider environmental impact view,” Mr Guy said.

FOA transport committee chair Brian Pritchard said building roads through the bush was a core forestry skill, but in recent years harvesting crews have found themselves working more frequently in steep hill country.

“This has tested the roading and landing making skills of forest owners and contractors at a time when council water quality plans have been paying greater attention to the run-off of silt and other debris.

“But to their great credit, forest owners and contractors have risen to the challenge. They have identified practices that have performed well under storm conditions in very difficult country. They have also identified those practices that don’t perform well.

“The Manual and Operators Guide is the end result of this collaboration. It is also a beginning – an essential starting point for anyone, not just forest owners, contemplating building unsealed access roads in the New Zealand back country.”


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