The removal of unsafe exotic trees in Egmont National Park will have flow-on benefits to the Taranaki community, says the Department of Conservation (DoC).
More than 100 eucalyptus trees near the entrance to Lucy's Gully in the Kaitake Ranges have been removed by logging contractors through June and July.
The large trees had become hazardous, with trees and branches regularly falling onto the access road, fences and neighbouring properties, says DoC Taranaki senior ranger Dave Rogers.
"The trees were planted as part of an employment scheme during the Depression in the 1930s before the Kaitake Range was integrated into the national park."
The tree removal is part of the Egmont National Park management plan, and is planned to be completed over coming weeks, weather permitting. Additional funding has been secured to expand the work and remove a further 40 eucalyptus trees.
All work on removal of the trees is being undertaken by local Taranaki businesses, with the safety overseer, logging contractors, traffic management team, haulage company, earth movers and roading team all coming from the region.
Any proceeds gained from the sale of the timber will help offset the costs of the tree removal.
A local forestry school will use the wood debris from the site for chainsaw training. A proposal to distribute the resulting firewood as part of a DoC Covid-19 initiative to support whānau and hapū and others in the community facing hardship is being investigated.
"The planting of these trees back during the Depression of the 1930s helped support local Taranaki people and we wanted to ensure local businesses benefit from their removal," says DoC Taranaki operations manager Gareth Hopkins.
For safety reasons, access to Lucy's Gully has been restricted from time to time while the work has been under way. The public is urged to stay clear of the work site while the felling is undertaken.
DoC is looking at options to support native species regeneration at the site with additional planting and weed control.