Brightwater residents will find out soon whether a bid to save a small stand of totara trees estimated to be hundreds of years old is likely to be successful. Last year the Nelson Diocesan Trust Board sought to retain a planning amendment that would allow rezoning part of its property along Waimea West Road for housing development.
The trust board wanted to sell a 3500-square-metre parcel of land, part of Snowdens Bush, a private scenic reserve open to the public, to help pay for a new vicarage that had been built a few years earlier.
However, the land contains a small stand of trees that is part of one of the last few lowland totara forest in the Nelson area – something the St Pauls Church parish and some local residents want to see preserved. It’s a forest type that once covered much of the Waimea Plains but is now all but lost to the area.
In an effort to save the trees, a community trust was formed with the intention of buying the land so the trees could be preserved. At the time, the Diocesan Trust Board decided it would give the community trust some time to see whether it could raise the money necessary to buy the land.
The idea gained support last year from Nelson MP Nick Smith and since then the community group and the Diocesan Trust Board have been working towards a possible solution. Waimea Weekly understands that an announcement over progress made towards the potential purchase of the land by the community group will be made in the next week.
However, it was not just the buying of the land that had to be considered.
The land would still have to be managed, something the church would no longer be responsible for, so that would likely have to be taken on by the Tasman District Council or the Department of Conservation.