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Poplar, willow pole scheme tenders, public orders sought

9 Apr 2020, 11:22 AM

Advance preparations have begun so Northland landowners keen to protect their properties from erosion can start to do once Central Government eases current restrictions to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Every year about this time the Northland Regional Council (NRC) invites landowners with erosion-prone properties from Topuni north to order poplar poles and willows from its 16-hectare nursery for the winter planting season.

Cr Rick Stolwerk.Regional councillor Rick Stolwerk; NRC planning ahead on poplar and willow front for eventual easing of Covid-19 restrictions. *(Note this is a file shot taken of Cr Stolwerk during a 2017 visit to the nursery).

Local councillor Rick Stolwerk says best time to plant the trees in Northland is typically during June and July so the council is already working within the confines of the current lockdown in the hope that any associated restrictions will have eased by then.

On that basis the council had this week, Monday 06 April, begun calling for tenders from commercial operators for this year’s harvest and planting at the poplar and willow nursery itself.

Councillor Stolwerk represents the NRC’s Coastal South constituency (which includes the Mata area, south of Whangarei where the nursery is based) and says tender documents can be downloaded from the Government Electronic Tender Service: www.gets.govt.nz

He says it’s important for anyone considering bidding for the tender realises the council reserves the right to extend the timeframe to award the tender or – in the worst case scenario – cancel tenders altogether depending on the covid-19 lockdown situation.

At the same time, the council is now also urging Northlanders to place orders for the poplars and willows themselves for the upcoming planting season.

The council’s Nursery Co-ordinator Matthew Mabbitt says a three-metre poplar pole will cost $12 (+ GST) and a one-metre shrubby willow pole $4 (+GST) and as with previous years, there is also a small fee for delivery to the farm gate.

“While payment for the poles doesn’t need to be made until Wednesday 20 May, by which time the situation with the pandemic will hopefully be much clearer, the council will actually stop taking orders for poles later this month; on Tuesday 28 April.”

Mr Mabbitt says demand always well exceeds supply and the council expects that’s likely to be the case again this year, despite the current pandemic.

He says the fast-growing trees have broad and binding root systems and have been widely used for years in Northland to prevent and control erosion and cut waterway sediment pollution.

“Although the species used aren’t native, they’re preferable because their rapid growth rates mean they can be starting to control erosion within as little as just three years.”

He says anyone interested in securing poles should contact a member of the council’s land management staff on (0800) 002 004 or email: [email protected] to arrange a consultation and develop a free planting plan.

Regional council staff are available to provide this service remotely – without needing to visit properties – thanks to recent investment in high-resolution oblique aerial photos and modern computer-based mapping systems and are still fully operational during the lockdown period.

General information about establishing poplars and willows is also available from the council’s website via: www.nrc.govt.nz/poplars

Matthew Mabbitt at the NRC’s Mata nursery.

A file shot – taken in April last year - of Nursery Co-ordinator Matthew Mabbitt at the NRC’s Mata nursery ahead of the 2019 planting season.