Forestry is a sideline into which the Incorporation has expanded over the years, providing a link with Mangatu tribal ancestor Paoa-Tuhunga-Kiwa’s dream and discovery of a tree on a mountain (Maungahaumi).
There is a continuing story throughout the Mangatu Blocks business history of respect and value for trees and forests and our commercial interests stretch as far back as the 1940’s when the Gisborne Box Company approached Mangatu for trees for milling through the Department of Forests.
Clearing the indigenous forest cover on the Mangatu lands happened fairly quickly and, by the early 1900’s , much had been cleared and for sheep and cattle. As a result our Indigenous forest holdings are now protected by a 50 year sustainable management programme.
There is over 15,000 hectares of native forest remaining on Mangatu land which the Incorporation has protected with a 50-year sustainable management plan. The tree species in the forest include Rimu, Miro, Matai, Totara, Red Beech, Silver Beech, Tawa, Hinau and Pokaka. The sustainable plan for the forest allows a limited amount of harvesting each year of some trees. Less timber is harvested from the forest each year than is proven to be naturally re-growing for that year. In this manner the forest is protected and the forest canopy maintained. Any trees harvested are lifted out by helicopter and the harvest sites monitored for regrowth. If natural regeneration does not occur quickly enough then 5-seedlings of the same species harvested are replanted on that site. The seedlings for this purpose are grown from seed gathered from the same area.
As part of the Mangatu sustainable plan for the native forest, a pest management plan to control goats and possums in the forest is underway. These animals have built up to high numbers over the years and shooting goats and trapping possums will dramatically improve the forest over time and benefit the native bird life including threatened kaka, kiwi and whiowhio.
John Ruru, former head of the Forest Service and Department of Conservation in Gisborne, and past member of the Mangatu Committee of Management, believes that in another 100 years the Mangatu landscape will not be covered in grasses, but with “a mosaic of forest and trees”. This, he believes, will be because in carefully managing the land for future generations, a partly forest-clad landscape is inevitable.