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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 64

Geographical Distribution

Geographical Distribution.

According to a return made to Parliament in 1874, Otago possesses about 2,250,000 acres, or 8,500 square miles of forest lands. With the exception of a block of 600 square miles in the north, which is almost treeless, the forests are well dispersed throughout the province, and the largest supplies are in very accessible situations. Practically there is a I belt of forest along nine-tenths of the Otago coast. It is quite unbroken from the north-west boundary at Martin Bay to Riverton, a distance of 200 miles and the gaps from thence to Waikouaiti, near the north-east boundary, axe few and short. The West Coast belt extends with greater or page 142 less continuity right across the country to the Waiau valley, and its its resources are comparatively unknown. The timber on the seaboard is good, but that in the interior is supposed to be scrubby. There is a considerable quantity of birch in the seaboard forest from Martin Bay to Preservation Inlet, but round the south and east coasts they consist of pines and the other common varieties. Stewart Island is one large pine forest, with a fair sprinkling of rata. Southland is remarkably well supplied with timber. A glance at the map shows an alternation of bush and open country that resembles the conception of a landscape gardener more than a natural arrangement. These isolated patches of forest embrace the whole width of the country, and extend 50 miles inland. One of the largest bushes in the interior of the province extends along the face of the Eyre mountains from the Five rivers to the Te Anau lake, including the Mararoa district. It i covers about 400 square miles. This and the lake forests, altogether about 400,000 acres, are all birch. The principal forests now available near the sea, in Southland, are from Riverton to the Waiau, sixteeen miles long by twelve broad; and the seaward bush, from Invercargill to the Mataura, twenty miles long, and from two to three broad. The Ototara, Waikiwi, and Makarewa bushes in the vicinity of Invercargill are also of considerable extent. Following up the coast the next large forest is the Tautuku bush, extending from Waipapa point to the Clutha river, a distance of forty-five miles and inland about twelve. We have then smaller patches at Kaitangata, Akatore, Dunedin, Waikouaiti, and Otepopo. The principal isolated bushes in the interior occur at Waiporai, Tapanui, and Switzers. Except on the west coast, where it descends to sea level, birch does not exist in forests below an altitude of 900 feet.

The principal supply of provincial timber for the Dunedin market comes from Southland and Catlin river, where the forests are accessible to water and railway carriage. Although Stewart Island is particularly well favoured in respect to harbour accommodation, its isolated situation has hitherto been a barrier to the development of the timber trade, and the west coast supplies have never been touched.