Tairawhiti land use inquiry not addressing wider issues
The Forest Owners Association says the Ministerial Inquiry into landuse in Tarawhiti has a core of practical recommendations, but has not addressed some more difficult and fundamental issues.
President, Grant Dodson says concentrating on changing forest harvest practices will not give protection against the massive climate threats and problems specific to using land in the fragile geology of the region.
Grant Dodson says he is working through the Inquiry’s recommendations, identifying the practical against the less than practrical. The FOA will release that fine-tuned assessment in due course.
“Unfortunately, the report has suffered from the short reporting time frame the Inquiry was given to get to potential solutions for the more difficult land use problems.”
“It reiterates some good ideas for changing harvest practices which have already been proposed or implemented. But it’s has failed to address what the whole region has to do about massive climate changes.”
“There’s a risk of it being a spray and walk away report, with the grander gestures leading to unintended consequences because they are not grounded in an objective analysis.”
“For instance, the proposed restriction on harvesting area, might result in compulsorily isolated patches of old trees which get knocked down with the wind and finish up in the river causing more of a problem than when there was no restriction,” Grant Dodson says.
“The most important point about the report though is that the Inquiry recognised this is a unique region and very few of the recommendations are applicable to the rest of New Zealand.”
“The report acknowledges the community’s anguish, but while talking about the complicated reality of landscape and climate, and farms and forests, it fails to address solutions in that complexity.”
“There will be significant transitional consequences and impacts on the region’s economy and people – which the report dwells on, but doesn’t seem to fully appreciate.”
“It does not acknowledge that the local forest industry has already accepted where its responsibilities lie, and is cleaning up and changing – companies are playing and paying their part.”
“The suggested Woody Debris Task Force of foresters and councils is a good idea. But, given the range of wood Gabrielle dumped into the rivers and what the future looks like, the Task Force should include participation by DoC and farmers as well.”
“All those in the region who live on the land, use it, or regulatate it, need to address the growing issue of vast volumes of sediment and whole trees being swept into rivers in increasingly violent storms.”
“Examination of woody debris after Gabrielle found only four percent of the wood deposited downstream in Hawke’s Bay came from harvesting pines.
“Most of the trees in places like Wairoa came from riparian plantings of willows and poplars, or native trees. The report ignored this.”
“The Inquiry report suggests that the management of pastoral farming needs improving. If that is to ever happen farmers also need to be arround the Task Force table to make a contribution.”
Grant Dodson says he will be closely scruitinising the Inquiry recommendation for an immediate halt to clear felling in the region.
“Some of the restrictions they suggest are in line with what companies are already doing to improve forest practices in areas where the terrain is steep and fragile.”
“But it’s important that prescriptions are tailored to meet the specific threat of the specific locality, which the report acknowledges, but then recomends one-size-fits-all formulas.”
“We are disappointed that the Inquiry has dismissed the use of debris traps in rivers to prevent woody debris travelling futher down the rivers.”
“If they are properly engineered, these devices have been shown to work well in other places arround the world. They should be more available here.”
“We congratule the Inquiry panel on mentioning the Forest and Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan, which will lead to more wood waste being removed from forests and used commerially in the future.”
“It will be to manufacture fuel, and for an emerging bioeconomy in the region.”
“A wood based bioeconomy helps keep fosil hydrocarbons in the ground and so contibutes to the fight against climate change,” Grant Dodson says.
“The Inquiry report also envisaged a 100-year-out future of more trees in the region for carbon capture, a mix of exotics and native trees it said, which would make Tairāwhiti ‘the lungs of the Pacific’.”
“We should all recognise it was after all climate change which created the intensity and damage of Cyclone Gabrielle and triggered the Inquiry in the first place.”