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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 9 (December 1, 1937.)

Water Conservation

Water Conservation.

Apart from its absolutely unique scenic value, the greatest value of the Urewera lies in its usefulness for water conservation. It has already been mentioned that the Urewera provides the catchment area for three large rivers, but these are also fed by several very large tributaries which in turn are supplied by a multitude of smaller but copious streams increasing in the higher altitudes. Observers near the coast are frequently perplexed by the flooded condition of the main rivers, when there has been only a slight rainfall on the plains, but this is forcibly explained on the higher altitudes where there is a phenomenal rainfall and exceptional natural catchment facilities owing to the steep, broken nature of the country.

The bush not only conserves this water, but retards its progress to the plains. Farming land in the Whakatane County served by the three large rivers comprises an area of approximately 200,000 acres including the Rangitaiki drainage area of 90,000 acres, which was reclaimed at a cost of £500,000. Together with the areas mentioned, the Galatea settlement and the adjacent farming country, and to a lesser degree the Opotiki flats, would suffer very seriously by the destruction of the Urewera forest. If the ranges were divested of bush, the area would be parched in the summer and subjected to devastating floods in the winter, a result which is only too forcibly illustrated by the position in the North Auckland district following similar destruction.