people cutting down trees for firewood has ‘‘gone into overdrive’’ in Albert Town, a local resident says.

Ed Astin is concerned people are felling trees without permission and with little regard for safety.

He works for the Department of Conservation, and has removed dangerous trees from the area, but was speaking as a concerned local resident.

‘‘No matter how well trained you are at tree felling, you can’t just go along here and get your chainsaw out.’’

He highlighted the level of safety checks and processes that happened before Doc cut down trees in the area.

This included public notices going out beforehand, as well as signage on the day, health and safety checks at the site, notifying WorkSafe, and having people stationed on the site to observe.

‘‘We had five people on the job to safely bring down trees,’’ Mr Astin said.

Many trees in the Templeton Park Reserve by the Upper Clutha River track had been cut down by residents, Mr Astin said.

‘‘I can tell straight away from looking at a stump of a tree if they know what they are doing or not.’’

Most of the trees were crack willow which were ‘‘very dangerous trees to deal with, because they split horribly’’.

‘‘They can be dangerous both to the people around you and the operator.’’

Mr Astin had lived in the area for about 12 years and the number of fellings ‘‘had gone into overdrive’’ in the past two years as trees were cut for firewood on either side of the Cardrona River.

Otago Regional Council engineering manager Michelle Mifflin said the land where tree felling was taking place was the responsibility of Land Information New Zealand.

‘‘We understand the activity is taking place in an area where debris is not washing into the river,’’ she said.

Land Information New Zealand deputy chief executive crown property Jerome Sheppard said he was concerned to hear individuals may be putting themselves at risk by felling trees in the area.

Assessments for the removal of windblown and heavily leaning trees in the area had not been undertaken.

‘‘The area in question is subject to an operating easement with Contact Energy and any removal of trees and root systems would be undertaken in consultation with Contact Energy and any other affected parties,’’ Mr Sheppard said.

‘‘We will be investigating further to better understand the matter.’’

A Queenstown Lakes District Council spokesman said it was concerned to have received reports about the use of chainsaws by members of the public on QLDC reserves.

‘‘This is both dangerous and illegal, and anyone caught using a chainsaw on reserve land in this manner faces the possibility of prosecution,’’ the spokesman said.

‘‘Members of the public are encouraged to contact council if they see this occurring.’’
Authorised tree trimming had been carried out by the regional council and Doc, he said.

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