Thursday, September 25, 2008

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.

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