Matt McCrorie

 

One of the companies really feeling the heat of the Pigeon Valley fires is Tasman Pine.
The company owns 60 per cent of the plantations lost in the Pigeon valley forest fires, which is roughly 1400 hectares out of the 2343ha burnt.
Chief operating office Steve Chandler was appointed to his new role mid-January and says his start at the job has been an “interesting one”.
Tasman Pine is yet to make estimates as to the cost of the damage caused by the fire, with Steve saying that once the fire is over there will be a lot of salvaging to do before the cost of the losses can be estimated.
While unable to calculate the exact loss, Steve says that out of the 36,000ha that Tasman Pine owns, the plantation lost was one of the “most productive”.
Around 100 employees were out of work as a result of the fires, as many loggers were deployed in fire-affected areas.
“Along with that, the risk was so high last week that we had to stand down crews, etc because of the restriction,” Steve says.
He says there were a large age range of trees, ranging from trees planted last year to those coming up for harvest, “so the losses would have been greater if the entire area was ready for harvest”.
Before Tasman Pine can start replanting, a lot of work needs to be done.
“Planning around replanting needs to happen first. A lot of dead trees and live trees are still standing, so we have to clear those first.”
Steve says the job ahead needs to be undertaken with planning and caution.
“Until the fire is completely out there is the risk of people walking into pockets of ember, as well as roots burning underground. So work there won’t start for a while.”
Steve said the effort that everybody has done in the fire is “absolutely amazing”
Tasman Pine has an exemption from Civil Defence to continue logging, under very strict conditions. The forestry industry is paying for helicopters on standby, and no work continues past 1pm.
“This enables some logs to flow into the industry, so we can start to get back some movement there,” Steve says.
He says most large forestry companies in New Zealand don’t insure against fire and wind, because the cost outweighs the risk. Tasman Pine is one of these companies.

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