18 Dec 2015

Only highest fire risk will halt forestry operation

12:44 pm on 18 December 2015

A Nelson and Marlborough forestry company will continue operating this summer except when the fire risk is at its highest, says its manager.

Nelson Management suffered extensive losses in last week's 1200ha forest fire in Marlborough, which occurred at a time when the fire risk was code blue, or midway on the five step scale.

Estate manager Andrew Karalus said the weather leading up to last week's fire was not unusual and its severity was a surprise.

He said the industry had been operating under the current code for 15 years, and in worse conditions, but lessons had been learned and the were seeking advice on how to improve controls. The coding system was sound, but more work needed to be done to respond to the conditions under which a fire was more likely to start and spread.

Mr Karalus said the livelihoods of around 1500 forestry workers and support industries would be at risk if operations were stopped.