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Forest Owners Association media release, July 7th 2023

SNA regulations 'confusing ecological naivety'

Forest Owners say the just released National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) is a classic bureaucratic formula of confusing ecological naivety which will not help rare species and likely have an opposite effect.

Forest Owners Association President, Grant Dodson, says the National Policy Statement is so vague as to what constitutes a Significant Natural Area (SNA), that it can incorporate any indigenous foliage at all and then be used to stop human activities around it.

“If the plant species is rare, it gets included. If it’s common, it gets included as ‘typical’ to the area. There are no gaps between typical and rare. And these are incredibly vague criteria for making rules which apply to both rural and urban landowners.”

“We’ll have sixty-seven local bodies coming up with sixty-seven different interpretations of what this all means. The Ministry for the Environment says the NPSIB will bring more certainty. It will achieve quite the reverse.”

Grant Dodson says forest companies invest a lot of effort to protect endangered bird and animal species and many forests are long certified to international standards, such as the Forest Stewardship Council and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, which incorporate these values and enhancement programmes.

“We have companies who have made substantial investments in trapping rats and mustelids, in partnership with local communities, to protect kiwi in our plantation forests.”

“The industry has commissioned a multiyear study in Otago on kārearea falcons, which has nearly concluded, so we will know exactly how far we need to keep harvesters away from their nests during the breeding season.”

“One of the many troubles with the SNAs is that they assume these birds, or bats or lizards too for that matter, stay in one place for years on end, so a local government official can draw a line around where they live, and imagine that’s where these birds and bats will stay put until the District Plan is revised a number of years later.”

“There’s good evidence that both kārearea and kiwi are attracted to plantation forests because of their more abundant food sources.”

“For kiwi, it’s the bed of pine litter. Insects feed on this and the kiwi eat the insects. The kārearea, on the other hand, like to nest in the cutover after a harvest, because that is an ideal habitat for mice and other prey which the kārearea feed on.”

“The birds are transient as harvest areas move, but overall, the species flourishes and we know from years of independent scientific research that the density of kārearea in Otago forests for example is the same as the uninhabited sub-Antarctic islands.”

“It’s ironic that critics of plantation forestry often claim that on one hand pine plantations are a ‘monoculture’ or an ‘ecological desert’, and often harbouring pests, which we know to be grossly untrue.”

“Now we are getting the reverse argument that plantation forests are of high ecological value and must be declared SNAs and activities restricted or controlled. Which one is it? It seems like forests can’t win!”

Grant Dodson emphasises that foresters are keen conservationists and responsible land managers.

“If they are signed on to FSC or PEFC, which most forest companies are, then they commit to a set of requirements on minimum indigenous biodiversity which they must maintain.”

“But these National Policy Statement rules will just force foresters, who already have a focused and informed programme of indigenous species conservation, to flag their efforts away and hand over to the city bureaucracy.”

Media contact: 

NZFOA president, Grant Dodson
Mobile: 027 654 6554

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