A Mauriceville farmer who led a fight to save mature pines and macrocarpa trees from being felled at the entrance to the Clarke Memorial Domain has won the day.
Masterton District councillors yesterday voted down a plan to fell the trees, opting instead to leave them where they are probably for the next few years and instead to now plant intended replacements to allow them to get established before any further consideration is given to dropping the older trees.
The vote by five votes to four came after Alan Stuart, who has lived in Mauriceville for 40 years, spoke at the council's public forum reminding councillors of the views of an arborist that the trees were of a low risk to humans and that any risk was "tolerable and manageable".
He said there was no history of the trees "failing" as had been claimed by some and that in 40 years he knew of only two boughs having to be cut under from the trees under sentence of death "and I cut those boughs out myself".
"If that constitutes tree failure, then that really surprises me," Mr Stuart said.
He said the biggest risk would come from felling the trees and therefore weakening the root system, causing the bank lining the roadway into the domain to collapse and topple down 30m.
Mr Stuart said claims it would cost more than $2000 a year to deadwood the pines was "absolute rubbish".
"If any of you feel worried about safety due to a branch give me a yell and I will come and do the job for you," he said.
Mr Stuart's suggestion that council takes up the option of replanting with whatever species it feels appropriate and allowing a five-year moratorium on the trees that were to be felled met with the approval of councillor Chris Peterson who said he would be reluctant to see the trees felled, especially as they had proven ecological value, playing host to a range of rare epiphytes, and given that the risk to humans was low.
Councillor Jonathan Hooker said he had visited the domain to see the situation for himself.
"I am comfortable with the trees remaining. It's a beautiful domain and taking out these trees could prove detrimental to it," he said.
Mr Hooker said he had been told the public meeting, at which the majority of people there had voted to see the trees felled, had not been held in Mauriceville but in Kopuaranga.
Councillors who voted to have the trees remain were Brent Goodwin, Jonathan Hooker, Mark Harris, David Holmes and Chris Peterson.
Voting to have them felled were Gary Caffell, Graham McClymont, Doug Bracewell and Mayor Lyn Patterson.
Two councillors, Simon O'Donoghue and Pip Hannon, were absent.