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Native beech trees cut down on public land

Sam Faalilo
Native beech tree cut down in Kaweka Forest Park
Native beech tree cut down in Kaweka Forest Park  Megan Dimozantos

Department of Conservation officials are investigating incidents where native trees have been cut down in Kaweka Forest Park.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is investigating incidents where native beech forest have been cut down in the Kaweka Forest Park in Hawke's Bay.

DOC Principal Compliance Officer Ross Atkinson said many New Zealand trees took a long time to grow. "People removing specimens like this can hamper forest regrowth," he explained.

Atkinson said it had an impact on the forest's biodiversity and overall health.

Stumps of small beech trees in Kaweka Forest Park
Stumps of small beech trees in Kaweka Forest Park Megan Dimozantos

Conservation staff in Waikato have also investigated incidents of felled natives. Mature kanuka trees, potentially up to 80 years old with a girth of approximately 60cm were found.

Back Country Trust Project Coordinator Megan Dimozantos said there was "an education gap" for some people venturing to national parks and conservation areas.

She was keen to help people understand the kaupapa of "leaving no trace".

In the last five years, several people have been prosecuted for tree felling under both the Reserves and Conservation Acts. Penalties range from community service to reparation and fines of up to $5000. 

Under a new infringement fine system, people can be charged $800 for cutting down native trees; without needing to go to court.

Beech Forest in Fiordland National Park
Beech Forest in Fiordland National Park j0055