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 Sustainable Management of New Zealands Beech Forests

What is meant by Sustainable Management?

New Zealand has extensive native beech forests
(Lake Daniels, Maruia Valley).

New Zealand’s indigenous timber resources are among the best managed in the world.

Sustainable forest management is defined by New Zealand's Forests Act 1949 as "the management of an area of indigenous forests land in a way that maintains the ability of the forest on that land to continue to provide a full range of products and amenities in perpetuity while maintaining the forest's natural values."

Sustainable management maintains the essential functioning of the delicate forest ecosystems, while enabling logs to be harvested for timber production.

This is achieved by:

  • Extensive research of forest values;
  • Maintaining forest values by imitating natural forest processes;
  • Minimal impact harvesting technologies;
  • Harvesting no more timber than will be replaced by natural growth.

Under New Zealand's Forests Act, native logs can only be harvested from forests in a way that maintains continuous forest cover and ecological balance.

Where timber is milled from natural forests, it must be produced sustainably as defined by the Forests Act (1949) as Amended (1993): “… management of an area of indigenous forest land in a way that maintains the ability of the forest on that land to continue to provide a full range of products and amenities in perpetuity while retaining the forest’s natural values”.

The Forests Act recognises the many values of indigenous forests including flora and fauna, soil and water quality protection, amenity and commercial timber values. As such it envisages both the retention of forests in their present extent and ultimately the enhancement of indigenous forest values. The Forests Act also recognises the rights of landowners to obtain an economic return from a privately owned asset, yet identifies their responsibility to maintain a healthy forest and functioning ecosystem with the aim of achieving an appropriate balance between productive use and maintenance of forests' natural values.

The Ministry for Primary Indiustries (MPI) is charged with administering the sustainable forest management plans of the Forests Act. MPI manages the assessment and approvals necessary for permits, approval of forest management plans, and other provisions for the logging and milling of indigenous timber. The indigenous forest provisions of the Forests Act apply to about one million hectares of private natural forests that remain available for timber production.
 

The beech forest industry involves the sustainable management of about 178, 000 ha of indigenous forest. The industry is committed to developing research, forest management and business development programs to underpin provision of timber and forestry products from native forests that are managed and operated on a sustainable basis under officially recognised management plans approved by the New Zealand Government.

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