In the August 31 North Shore Times:
Department of Conservation launches track upgrades
The Department of Conservation has started work on a track upgrade in Okura Bush they say will prevent the spread of kauri dieback.
The walkway serves more than 60,000 visitors per year and will be closed for approximately 10 weeks while contractors work on the track.
The upgrade aims to make wet and muddy sections of track dry and involves installing about 300 metres of boardwalk and 30m of geoweb, plastic, honeycomb-like cells that are filled with bark and gravel.
Environmental group Friends of Okura Bush has previously expressed concerns about the effect of placing plastic in the forest.
The group has been campaigning for three years for a fully boardwalked track along the popular 8 kilometre long walkway.
Friends of Okura Bush’s Lezette Reid says the group has had a long period of negotiation with DOC and are largely pleased with the outcome.
The original plans called for 285m of geoweb.
“There is still 30m they insist on putting in even though we have offered to pay for a boardwalk to be installed instead,” Lezette says.
The group says a seven-year trial of geoweb in other places isn’t long enough to prove that it works .
She says people should adhere to the track closures to avoid spreading dieback.
Group member Geoff Reid says putting plastic in the forest is a short-term fix to a long-term problem and future upgrades could disturb roots.
“In 20 to 30 years we’re going to have to pull this stuff out because no one wants plastic in the forest,” Geoff says.
“A boardwalk is best practice and that’s what we want.”