Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nude bathing on Eastbourne Beach - NO WAY!

There has been considerable publicity given to Kapiti District Council's move to allow nude bathing along the whole of their coast line. Wellington City Council points out that although there has been a local beach regularly used by nude bathers for some years, they do not have any bylaw against such behaviour and haven't for some time.

I enjoyed finding this reference then in an old Evening Post (7 Jan 1908) that records the passing of Eastbourne's new bylaw prohibiting such practices. And note, they even had swimming code inspectors - caretakers of the PUBLIC GOOD!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Beech forest damage, Days Bay

Our ecosystems develop in association with the their surroundings (by definition). If one part of the system is disrupted then there may be further disruption in the rest of the system. If a large old tree falls down within a forest there can be many consequences.

Additional light may be let in. Wind can get in. The eventually decaying trunk will provide organic material for soil rejuvenation and so on. When several trees fall with very wet feet, inadequate root systems etc the consequences may be greater. When even more trees are felled by the addition of very strong wind the ecological issues escalate.

There is no doubt that the removal of the pines above Sunshine Bay contributed to the die-back and wind assisted toppling of many Beech trees over the southerly ridge from the Pine Forest and in to Days Bay. To imply that the death of the Beech trees was an almost direct result of the trees being cut from 2006 is simply not good ecological reasoning.

With the Pine Forest over the ridge (shown above) gone, other trees that had grown in it's shelter were now more exposed to the elements. Immediately after the first 'wet feet' and 'wind-blow' fall of pine trees in 2004, trees all around took a beating. First, of course, it was the neighbouring pine trees to those that had fallen - to natures hand, not man's.

The same storms had afflicted the Wellington City pine forest on the Tinakori hills (also 2004) and forced the WCC to lead the way in removing the remainder of their pine forest.

HCC council began cutting in 2005 and as already noted earlier a small stand of Beech on the edge of the northern Days Bay ridge were the first taller trees to die back. Other beech trees that had not grown in the lee of the forest, remained strong and unaffected. Medium height native specimens that had also begun to grow on that northern ridge in the lee of the pine forest also were burnt off.

In the photo above and the one below, of the northern ridge of Days Bay, it is clear that Beech trees can and have, survived strong salt laden winds. These photos were taken September 2008.

The photo below is also interesting in showing the very localised nature of the Beech tree wind-burn when viewed against the surrounding forest cover.

The area of the fallen Beech trees, only 2 years later, is covered with hundreds of Beech seedling many well over a metre high. If the trees were going to suffer die-back from wind burn maybe the good thing that happened was that they were not merely burnt but toppled.

It looks a mess now from afar but close up it a an amazing seedling bed. The uprooted trees effectively loosened soil, provided protection from the sun and moisture retention in the area immediately behind the root balls. There is probably going to be much faster return to a stronger forest than existed before, than if regrowth was happening following a fire.

Beech seedlings growing very strongly (despite a very dry summer) two years after their parents toppled. Look forward to a stronger, more healthy Beech forest.

My next post will consider a little of what we know of this area going back about 150 years. The Bays were cleared, burnt (on purpose and by accident) and farmed. Roads were cut into the hillside, sections were cleared and houses built.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pine forest removal, Sunshine Bay - Post #4

This is the fourth instalment on the Sunshine Bay Pine Forest removal, 2004 - 2006. My subsequent instalments on this Pine Forest saga are going to review earlier hazards that these hillsides have been subjected to and that have contributed to the changing shape and cover of the land - clearing, fire & grazing. The Pine Forest was finally cleared during December 2006. Photos show: - loggers working to tie back trunks prior to cutting
- the 'pathway' of a get-a-way log
- the get-a-way log
- the completed result, including the long-term- tie back with wire ropes of many of the fallen trunks (too difficult to remove with a helicopter).

The clean up included the cutting into firewood lengths, one large log that had slipped downhill out of control, just missing the new house being built below.

The logging team were working on a wet Sunday to complete the job, tying back all trunks with large ropes in an endeavour to prevent the log possibly careering sown hill. Despite their efforts one did get a way with the 50 mm rope unravelling itself from its tie-up point. It slid just past the house under construction at the top of Mahina Road.

The photo below, taken in January 2007, shows the hillside after the last of the trees was felled. Clearing up the boundary track still has to be undertaken. One can see the wire ropes placed to secure the trunks from slipping down hill. (All images can be seen in a slightly enlarged format by clicking on them.)

Further photos indicate how well the native tree undergrowth is already coming away strongly in the wetter, more southerly facing slopes and gullies. The photo immediately below is in the area of the top of the gully north of Slip 3" (HCC consultants - Samcon Report dated Oct 2006). The 2nd photo is immediately above 'Slip 3'.There are many hundreds of Rangiora (flowering in the photo below), Whiteywood and a variety of coprosma among many other species. The 2nd photo also shows some of the seedlings planted by an HCC work team who did an excellent job, digging deep holes such that many of the seedling. survived the dry summer of 2007. In the last couple of months further replanting has taken place. There has also been a further slip that unfortunately took out several seedlings and now also threatens the path across the top of the slips. That pathway was originally put in along with the pine seedlings in the 1930's. It was taken out in many places during the slips over the last 4 years with the author undertaking re-alignment work in an effort to keep the access open - valuable in the case of fire apart from recreational, restoration and maintenance work.

On the drier, westerly and northerly slopes one can expect a lot more gorse re-growth. However, where an uprooted pine tree provides some shelter native cover is likely to sprout and flourish. natural growth has also been supplemented with specific plantings. There is, unfortunately, also a lot of Boneseed. An earlier HCC report did suggest that they would be removing the Boneseed weed during their Maintenance programmes. Although they have done well removing pine seedlings it appears as though they have decided to fore-go the removal of Boneseed.
It was from this area that the small 'lahar' arose (mentioned in a much earlier post).

The next post will discuss the 'burning' of a large patch of Beech forest over the ridge to the south, in Days Bay.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pine Forest - Slips Sunshine Bay - post #3

October 2006 the hillside is on the move again. It has been moving, of course, for millions of years. The land shakes and moves. The cover grows, dies, regenerates. We burn the cover off or cut roads and tracks through it. We dig platforms for houses and so on. But yes, it moved again 2006 and suddenly many people said it was the Council's fault! We love to blame someone, anyone, but particularly government bodies. That month had seen over 300 slips around the Wellington area. If we live on hills we are bound to contribute to their demise. But they will erode over time without our intervention.

This particular area has slipped quite often over the last 40 years or so. 1976 (or was it '77?) there was a very substantial rainfall during December. The western Hutt hills literally ran with water, pushing cars off the road below. In Sunshine Bay several significant slips occurred, one bringing down a crib block wall to the bottom of a valley. In 2004 the Pine Forest area began to slip - surprise surprise - without any help from the Council. And it has continued to the present. It has been a dramatic and for some, traumatic over the past 4 years. I am retrospectively doing these posts to give a slightly longer term perspective to the ecological factors than simply the cutting of the forest over a couple of years.

This photo, taken October 2006, is looking south from above Sunshine Bay to the northern ridge between Days Bay and Sunshine Bay.

The position of the cottage that was destroyed earlier (mentioned in a previous post) is labeled.

Top left there was a small stand of beech trees that had grown up with the pines,in their shelter. They died following the demise of the pine forest.

The bigger slip, shown in the centre of the photo, contributed to the destruction of the house below, just above the Marine drive. These slips and other recent ones, started in 2004 - before the Council had done anything. Of course, the valley has been slipping for millenniums - that's why there is a valley there!
This photo is taken from the head of the slip shown in the previous photo. It was taken October 2006 and has grown considerably since then. The house at the bottom of the valley that had a bedroom destroyed has subsequently been removed.

This is the house, October 2006. Some of the large, fallen pine tree trunks that came down with the slip can be seen .

The white house on the right was also damaged and has also been removed.

Decision made to fell the Pine Forest

The Hutt City Council, recently responsible for the forest following over 50 years of management by the Wellington City Council, decided they had to fell the remaining forest. That involved cutting, often in very steep terrain, and removing the trees with a very large double bladed helicopter. The task was time consuming and expensive. Budget and other logistics did not allow the felling to be completed the first year.

With the trees left standing now exposed to much stronger winds the following year saw dozens of them fall in tangled messes. Removal was much more difficult because the very heavy uprooted base of the trees meant that helicopter removal was often not possible.

The first photo here shows some of the pines left on the Sunshine Bay - Mahina Bay ridge. The lack of green needled branches is very apparent.

The second photo shows the same stand of trees with many fallen trunks now lying in a tangled mass.

These photos were taken during October 2006 - some time after felling had stopped.

The helicopter used to take the logs out for processing and sale.

Pines fallen because of 'wet feet'. Sunshine Bay Feb 2004

Wellington's summer of 2003/2004 was very wet. Late February brought a severe storm - rain and wind with a lot of damage around the Wellington area. Reserve land above Sunshine Bay and the northern end of Days Bay had been planted in Pines during the 1930s.

High above the northerly valley in Sunshine Bay some of these pines fell over with 'wet feet'. They were not 'windfalls'. The southerly gale raging at that time did not reach this part of the pine forest. The pines had originally been planted very close together and had had little management. I understand that some thinning or selective logging was under taken at the southern end of the forest during 1949. They grew tall and dropped dying branched as they grew. By 2004 they had very little green branch with which to provide essential nutrients and subsequently also had very small roots systems. They were potentially unstable, particularly in wet, sodden ground and many of them had quite a lean to the west (down hill side). They simply began to fall over because of their now inherent instability in the very wet conditions.

These two photos show the first pines fallen. Further south, on the edge of the forest, the southerly wind did have an added effect - dozens of unstable strees fell and land began to slip in the area, taking out a samll bach and injuring the occupant when the landslide breached the wall of the room where he was sitting at his desk.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Borough matters not

There was a mayor, now dead and gone

Who many thought should have a gong.

Then one day to the borough came

A man who had so little shame.

He wanted much to be town clerk

But from his past he could not depart.

Wiley man, he knew the mayor

Also had misdeeds that brought despair.

Their pasts, they agreed, would forever remain

Each others secret so both would gain.

The mayor departed without his gong

The man, he worked and sang his song.

Many an oldie had their garden done

The hand of the new mayor he had won.

But when the residents complained

That the town clerk had mucked up again

And to the new mayor went with tales

She simply promised, smiled, but no betrayls.

Then election time it came

And a new would-be-mayor took the reign.

He promised to keep the borough free

Of interference from the powers that be.

But he had not reckoned upon wiser counsel

That he discovered would dispatch his council.

He left in a hurry for he could not curry

The favour of all of those who were in a flurry.

And then the day came when the borough went

To its great big neighbour, its day spent.

The town clerk too, until it transpired

He was now only a minion and retired.

He went over the hill where the grass grew green

At least for the town clerk, for he had seen

A widow with a bigger pile

And the old new mayor became a file.

She left with hurt and her poetry skills

While the erstwhile town clerk enjoyed his frills.

Then suddenly he became quite sickly

And judgement day came all too quickly.

There is no moral to this story

Merely opportunity to be observatory.