Pine plantations being harvested
Pines being harvested between the 16th and 17th fairways
There are three small pine plantations at Trentham. They are situated between the 6th and 7th fairways, between the 7th and 8th fairways, and on the hill between the 16th and 17th fairways. The plantations were planted in the early 1980s, with the intention of providing an aesthetic value to the course as well as a long-term timber resource that would provide income to the club.
The committee has had to determine the management of these areas and has decided to harvest the pines. The contractor is currently working, and this will continue during July.
The plantations have been left largely unmanaged in a silvicultural sense since being planted. High tree density through lack of thinning has inhibited growth of quality, large trees as well as reducing tree life span. Lack of pruning to a certain height in the plantation's earlier stages has led to knotty growth that has produced lower timber quality.
The plantations are now about 35 years old. The normal rotation for pine timber is about 25 years, for example, local pines that were planted some years after the Ash Wednesday fires (post-1983) have already been harvested. The plantations at Trentham are becoming over-mature.
Professional assessments obtained in 2016 showed that, at best, the total value of the timber on a royalty basis is between $5000 and $8000. About 30% of the trees are of a reasonable timber standard, with the remainder being second grade or pulp quality.
Reasons for keeping the plantations
The major reason is aesthetics, and some wind protection. This is very important to the appeal of the course, but unfortunately will only be of short- to medium-term benefit as beyond 45-50 years of age (i.e. within the next ten years) trees will start to die and/or fall if left to an over-mature stage. There are already some trees that have blown over in the wind or collapsed through rotted roots. This will then become a cost to the club rather than an income.
Reasons for harvesting the trees
These can be determined as:
- Income to the club. Although relatively small, there is some value that can be put to other projects, for example water security.
- Renewal. While the harvested areas may look bare for some time, in the long run they will be re-populated with pine ‘wildlings’ that regrow from the harvested areas.
- Long-term cost savings. If left to an over-mature stage, there will be a significant cost to the club in removal and management, rather than an income.
- Safety. The possibility of trees falling besides fairways presents a danger, that will increase as the plantations age.
- Inhibition of other trees. Some trees, for example the regionally significant Manna gum on the hill beside the 16th fairway, are inhibited or visually hidden by the plantations and other tree re-growth.
- Bushfire hazard. Mature pine plantations with a high sub-storey fuel load can be an extreme bushfire risk. The club risks losing the plantations completely, and nearby greens (e.g. 6th), in the event of a fire.
Committee recommendation and action
The committee has determined that it is of benefit to the club to harvest the pines. While the committee appreciates the aesthetic value they provide, this is not viable in the medium term.
Trees on the edge of the plantations and fairways, for example larger cypress pines edging both sides of the 7th fairway and the right side of the 8th fairways, will not be removed. The lines of pine trees along the right side of the 14th fairway, and the right side of the 18th fairway are not under consideration for removal.