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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 5 (September 24, 1926)

Trees To The Rescue — An Unexpected Dowry

page 32

Trees To The Rescue
An Unexpected Dowry

The tender of Messrs Cook & Sons Ltd., of Palmerston North, has been accepted for the purchase of the milling timber in the Railway Department's plantations on the Foxton branch. Although the trees were not planted for commercial purposes the Department's revenue will benefit by about £3,000 as the result of their sale.

The Foxton branch railway was opened for traffic in 1876 and for several years after great trouble was experienced on the portion of the line between Himatangi and Foxton with sand drifting on to the track. The country adjoining consisted, at that time, of naked sand dunes, and after every strong wind the railway line was covered with sand, constituting a source of danger to trains. The continual removal of this sand added materially to the cost of maintenance. To prevent the sand drift, the Department in 1884 acquired, on the western side of the line, strips of land several miles long and varying in width from five chains to ten chains.

The World-famed Spiral, North Island Main Trunk Line

The World-famed Spiral, North Island Main Trunk Line

These areas were planted by the Maintenance staff, with pinus insignis trees from the Department's own nurseries. The tree planting proved effectual in preventing sand movement, thus achieving the purpose for which it was carried out. The ground became covered with leaf litter and light humus, which encouraged the growth of grass and other vegetation. The sand was thus stabilised, and no trouble with drift has been experienced for many years past.

The greater number of the trees have now fully matured, and as, under existing conditions, the plantations were more likely to decrease than to increase in value, it was considered advisable to sell off the existing trees and replant the areas with trees of greater commercial value on the lines of scientific afforestation. This work will be carried out under the expert supervision of the State Forest Service, and there is no doubt that these areas, which were once troublesome sand wastes, will in the future be sources of considerable profit to the Railway Department.