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Judge slams Coromandel forestry offending

A Rotorua forestry company and a Coromandel forestry contractor have been fined more than $50,000 in total for carrying out forest harvesting unlawfully at a remote Coromandel farm.

The case, brought by Waikato Regional Council, related to a forestry harvest operation where earthworks had been carried out without appropriate erosion and sediment controls between February and May 2011.

During the harvest, two steep gullies were left with forestry debris in circumstances where waterways could be blocked and one gully in particular was choked with soil and vegetation.

Professional Harvesting Systems of Rotorua was convicted and fined $29,400, while contractor James McCulloch was also convicted and fined $21,388, after both defendants pleaded guilty to a charge under the Resource Management Act.

The matter was heard in Hamilton District Court before Judge Melanie Harland.

The farm, situated on Colville Road, straddles the divide between the west and east coasts of the Coromandel Peninsula, with Colville Bay to the west and Kennedy Bay to the east. Streams at the site all flow to Colville Bay, which is an area of significant conservation value in the Waikato Regional Coastal Plan.

“The concern with excess sediment in waterways is that it decreases habitat for aquatic life and can adversely affect plants, invertebrates and fish to the point that they will not survive,” said council land and soil manager Grant Blackie.

“In this case the court has sent a clear message to all parties involved in woodlot harvesting that they must go about their activity in a responsible manner, particularly so in more sensitive areas like the Coromandel.”

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