27 Sep 2013

Storm-felled timber estimate tops 1 million tonnes

1:46 pm on 27 September 2013

Foresters still assessing the damage to Canterbury plantations from the violent windstorm earlier this month estimate it has left more than 1 million tonnes of timber lying on the ground.

The storm knocked down entire shelter belts and left commercial plantations and woodlots in tatters throughout Canterbury and into north Otago.

Canterbury-based forestry consultant and manager Allan Laurie says the industry is still toting up the damage and cost, but it is going to disrupt wood supply for years to come.

He says concerns include getting the wood off the ground and into the market before it decays.

The impact on wood supplies in the future is also a worry.

"A lot of 15 - 25-year-old stands have been blown down and they of course would have been stands that would have been producing volume in 5 - 10 years time," he says.

Mr Laurie says when 2.5 million tonnes of trees were blown down in 1975, the impact on wood flows in Canterbury is said to have lasted 20 years.

He says one of the most pressing needs is getting extra forestry crews into Canterbury to salvage the fallen timber.

Mr Laurie says forestry crews helping with the clean-up need to be experienced in dealing with wind blown timber, because of the additional safety risks involved.