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February, 2023

Forest Owners says two months too brief to look into the complex land issues in Tairawhiti.

The Forest Owners Association says the two month long inquiry into land use in Tairāwhiti doesn’t give enough time or depth to find solutions.

The Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins has just announced the governement would be launching a Ministerial level Inquiry into land use in the region, following the demands of a local petition.

Forest Owners Association President, Grant Dodson, says the two-month long time scale for the Tairāwhiti Inquiry is too brief to properly consider the intersection of all land uses impacted and the considerable science that needs to be reviewed.

“The region is unique.  There is land which is some of the most errodable in the world.  On the other hand, climage change is probably going to bring both more storms and droughts into the area, before anywhere else in New Zealand.”

“The issues of agriculture, forestry, infructure and economic prosperity are complex and interlinked, and so a rush once-over look is not going to be thorough and long enough to get past a blame game.” Grant Dodson says.

“Tree planting always has been , and remains, the answer to trying to stabilise much of that highly erodable countryside and reduce silt dumps onto agriculture land, homes and businesses.  Foresty, as well, provides most of the desperately needed employment in large parts of the region.”

“It should not be forgotten that trees are also the greatest practical medium-term tool to reduce net industrial carbon emissions and so combat climate change.”

But Grant Dodson says while more forestry is one answer, the industry must take some drastic steps to stay ahead of climate change and reduce slash discharges.

“The volumes of slash up against bridges from these events must reduce.  We must do better.  We have introduced environmentally safer harvesting techniques since the 2018 Tolaga Bay storm, such as harvesting smaller areas at a time and removing more slash from the forest.  We have protected more native tree riparian strips to keep wood out of rivers.  The most effective measures, such as new tree species, however take time to grow.”

“In the meantime our industry is concentrating on the cleanup and using our equipment to work with authorities to support local communities and get the local infrastruture going again.”

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