Helicopters have started salvaging some of the native timber blown over by Cyclone Ita on the West Coast in April.
The storm destroyed thousands of hectares of forest, and over the summer hundreds of valuable rimu logs are being recovered from bush land near Lake Brunner to be made into flooring and furniture.
Each log is worth about $5000, but once milled and processed they can be worth eight times that.
“It’s strictly taking very small percentages of the highest-value timber out,” says Jon Dronfield of New Zealand Sustainable Forest Products. “The economics of helicopter logging are pretty high. It’s an expensive business but it works for a high-value timber like this.”
While the logs have been expertly cut to size, there were no chainsaws involved in their felling; they were flattened by Cyclone Ita in April that blew over hundreds of thousands of trees, potentially 5 million tonnes of native timber.
Instead of letting it slowly rot on the forest floor, the Government pushed through new legislation allowing a tiny proportion of it, just 2 percent, to be extracted over the next five years.