Watercare to regenerate pine forest in Hūnua Ranges with natives

We have bought a large private forest in the Hūnua Ranges. 

The 1800-hectare commercial pine forest, operated under a forestry right on land owned by Auckland Council, was purchased from the Waytemore Group earlier this year. Around 65 per cent of Auckland’s water supply comes from four Watercare dams in the Hūnua Ranges and the private forest also stretches as far as the Wairoa and Upper Mangatawhiri reservoir catchments.

Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram says: ‟This is an exciting purchase. By owning the forest, we are able to control the forestry operation and regenerate the water supply catchment with native forest decades earlier.”

With the forestry right in our ownership, the timeframe for harvesting the timber is now reduced. Originally, harvesting would have continued up to 2089 (another 72 years) but now we and Auckland Council have agreed to shorten the term by about 45 years. 

After the current rotations of pine trees are harvested, we will progressively restore the land back to native forest. Not only will this increase native fauna and flora in the region, it will also provide more recreational opportunities for the public, without the restrictions imposed by commercial forestry.

Auckland Council’s Hūnua Ranges Regional Parkland is less than an hour’s drive south of Auckland and features waterfalls, creeks and large tracts of native bush. The region is a natural playground for walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders. 

The ranges have a high rainfall (1.8 metres per year - 50 per cent more than Auckland) and the high elevation means that water from our dams flows by gravity to the Ardmore Water Treatment Plant.