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Sources of driftwood on Hawke's Bay beaches

Debris at Haumoana beach

Sources of unusually large amounts of driftwood in the water and on several Hawke’s Bay beaches is not yet clear, but the materials appear to be small and of mixed origin and not from recent forestry operations.

 Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Group Manager Asset Management Chris Dolley, says recent storms have likely washed several years’ of wood debris down rivers and into the sea.

 “The Regional Council can only act in a very limited way to enforce clean-up of this material and has no overall responsibility for cleaning beaches of driftwood.

 Responsibility for maintaining vegetation within the riparian margin rests with the many landowners of the rivers, streams and watercourses within the various catchments that discharge into Hawke Bay.

 Where plantation forestry slash can be clearly identified, the Regional Council  will follow up and investigate through its compliance team

 And while some may be upset by the extra driftwood, Mr Dolley points out that it does have some ecological benefits pointing to a fenced off area between Westshore and Bayview strewn with driftwood that is a protected bird habitat for New Zealand dotterels.

Mr Dolley says the Regional Council will continue to monitor the situation.

 Regional Council Deputy Harbourmaster Adrian Wright says the driftwood may present issues for recreational boat users, commercial vessels, and all persons engaged in activities on the water over the long weekend.

 “Due to weather there is an excessive amount of driftwood/debris in the ocean and all boaters and other users should avoid (if possible) being on the water,” he says.

 If it is necessary to be on the water, he advises a heightened level of caution because driftwood and other debris can cause bodily harm, adversely affect vessel propulsion systems, and the physical integrity of smaller crafts.

3 February 2023

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