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Poplar and willow sales resume

11 Apr 2022, 12:45 PM

Poplars and willows offer a host of benefits including stabilising land and helping hold fertile soil in place instead of polluting waterways as it washes into our estuaries.

Northland Regional Council (NRC) member Rick Stolwerk says the benefits the two species offer is one of the reasons its sells both at low cost from its Mata nursery near Whangarei.

“Keeping fertile soils on the land is in the interest of all Northlanders and without the protection poplars and other trees afford, hills simply erode and wash away in severe rainstorms.”

Councillor Stolwerk says eroded sediment is Northland’s biggest natural pollutant, research showing the Bay of Islands alone has lost an average of 500,000 tonnes annually for the past century.

“Preventing erosion at source – for both environmental and economic reasons – is one of the reasons the regional council has invested heavily in its 16-hectare poplar and willow nursery”.

He describes poplars and willows as the ‘unsung heroes’ of our regional environment as without the protection the trees offer, many of our hills would seriously erode in bad storms.

The councillor (who represents the NRC’s Coastal South constituency the Flyger Rd nursery sits in) says poplars and willows offer a host of benefits.

“They stabilise pastoral hill country, increase water storage, reduce sediment runoff, improve water quality, benefit stock and enhance the farm environment.”

Every year about this time the NRC invites landowners with erosion-prone properties from Topuni north to order heavily-subsidised poplar and willow poles from the Flyger Rd nursery for the approaching winter planting season.

Orders are open now and the council’s nursery manager John Ballinger says a poplar or willow tree will cost between $4.60 to $14.40 (GST inclusive) depending on size and whether it’s planted for erosion control or another purpose.

Mr Ballinger says protective sleeves for 3m poles (largest size of tree) are $8.60 (GST incl) each and depending on contractor availability, the regional council is also heavily subsidising the planting of poles up to an additional $8.05 (GST incl) per pole.

Mr Ballinger says demand usually outstrips supply, so people are being urged to order them sooner rather than later.

“While payment doesn’t have to be made until 20th June, we will actually stop taking orders for poles on 13th May or when stocks are all sold, whichever comes sooner.”

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 free planting plan.

Councillor Stolwerk 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 neither species is native, they’re preferable because their quick growth rates mean they can be controlling erosion within as little as just three years.” Furthermore, in summer they provide shade for livestock and in winter drop their leaves allowing the grass to grow making them ideal trees for pastural farming.

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