In 2004 Isthmus purchased two modest South Island forests off a listed forestry company which was disposing of assets. These were an opportunistic purchase at the time, but were also seen as an interesting diversification.
The larger of these forests had been substantially logged out by the previous owners, but only about 25% had been replanted.
The property was fully roaded and Isthmus wanted to continue with the use of the land for forestry purposes, both because it was the most suitable use of the land and because it is environmentally desirable.
Accordingly Isthmus carried out aerial desiccation and had contractors replant the balance of this property with pinus radiata for its second rotation. Planting ages now range predominantly between 2003 – 2006.
In 2012 Isthmus negotiated with the Department of Conservation to log out a small area of its own remaining mature forest, as well as a more significant area of 38 year old pines on adjoining conservation land. As Isthmus had the only road access it was a natural partnership. Isthmus paid to extend its roading in to the DOC land and managed the harvest over a period of several months. DOC received a royalty for every tonne removed and is using this money to ensure that the area now regenerates in native trees which will complement the adjoining Abel Tasman National Park.
Our forestry philosophy is to target the domestic saw log market and accordingly we do not prune our trees. We do however “thin to waste” and this has been completed over most of the block. The final areas will be thinned over 2016/17.
As the name implies, this forestry block is quite elevated with steep & difficult access. It started life as a “ballot farm” given to a returned serviceman after the First World War. He burnt it to clear it and ran it as a sheep farm for a number of years. With the only access being by pack mule it was a hard and difficult life for him. Eventually he abandoned the farm, but some of his fencing and implements can still be found on the property.
By the time Isthmus purchased Skyfarm it had 35 year old mature pines on it and a rough 4WD track for access. However it required significant amounts of money spent on roading before harvest could proceed. This included several weeks of “blasting out” of solid rock to form the access road sufficiently to get logging trucks through.
Isthmus used local contractors to carry out the required roading during the first half of 2007 and commenced logging operations in June 2007. As no logging gangs in the area had their own aerial hauler, Isthmus purchased its own for use on the block. Logging operations were completed in 2009 and the aerial hauler was sold after the completion of the harvest. The entire property was replanted for its second rotation in 2010 and top dressed by helicopter in 2015.
Wild life is plentiful at this block with native Kea (mountain) parrots being a common sight. Wild deer, pigs and goats need to be controlled or they damage plantings. Over 350 goats were shot out in one 3 year period.