New Zealand’s forest policy has long been lauded as a progressive solution to the country’s timber crisis.
It was one of the first countries to pass a moratorium on new logging and conservation measures, and now is also the first country in the world to allow for the export of wood chips and pulpwood.
And the policy has been hailed as a success story for the environment and conservation.
But its success comes at a price: A lack of information.
“We’ve done a lot of work with the government and the Ministry of Forests, but the information is quite limited, to be honest,” says Nick Baskerville, head of the forestry research centre at the University of Otago.
“The ministry doesn’t have the information, and there’s not a lot that’s out there that’s being done.”
Baskington says the government has a number of tools it can use to inform the public about its timber policies.
“You could talk to the government about things that are happening in the forestry industry, but it’s not something that’s really part of the current government,” he says.
“I would say the biggest thing is to go out and talk to your local farmer.”
Borkers are frustrated by the lack of communication around the issue.
“It’s like trying to find out what the latest weather forecast is, or where the next fire is, and then you don’t know what to do about it,” says Joanne Higgs, a retired commercial gardener from Dunedin who has been campaigning to protect the countrys forests for years.
“What are you doing about the fire risk in your local forest?” she says.
Baskland says it’s difficult to get information out there about forestry policies without being a part of an organization or participating in a group.
“People don’t want to hear that the government is cutting down trees.” “
There are a lot fewer people who have actually been involved in the logging industry and conservation, so that is the biggest issue,” he adds.
“People don’t want to hear that the government is cutting down trees.”
What is the Ministry for Forests policy?
The Ministry for Forestry is the government agency charged with protecting New Zealands forests.
The policy states that all new timber should be cleared within 30 years.
It also requires new forest land to be managed as “forest reserve” land, or a part-owner-managed reserve, with the land’s natural history and ecological balance being preserved and the area managed as wilderness.
What happens if I’m interested in buying timber?
The ministry requires any new timber purchased from a forestist to be “reclaimed” within 60 days of purchase, which is usually between six months and two years.
Once a tree has been reclaimed, it’s “rescued” from the forest, with any remaining wood being taken to a “forest rehabilitation” centre, where it can be used for construction, or converted into timber.
“If you buy timber from a commercial forestry firm and the timber is reclaimed, you are not allowed to use it for construction,” says Baskville.
It’s very difficult to be able to tell people when you’ve got the forest and timber under your control.” “
So that is very concerning, especially if you’re a commercial timber business.
It’s very difficult to be able to tell people when you’ve got the forest and timber under your control.”
The Ministry also requires a forest owner to register with the ministry and report on the forest’s health and condition.
How does the government monitor the status of forests?
Forestry Minister Peter Dunne says it is difficult to track the progress of forest management and how well it is being implemented.
“Some areas are in a pretty good state, some are in worse condition,” he told reporters in October last year.
“But the problem is that a large part of New Zealand has no way of knowing what the status is of their forests and forests have never been monitored as well as they could have been in the past.”
Dunne has acknowledged that it’s very hard to monitor the state of New York’s forests, because there’s no national registry of trees.
However, he says it would be impossible to monitor New Zealand forests in isolation.
“Our forest management policy is designed to make sure we get it right,” he said.
“To that end, we have a number and a number which are put out to the public, including information on how we’re managing our forests.
We are actively working on developing the Forest Information Network.”
Bakington, who’s also a consultant to the Forestry Act, says the Ministry has been successful in implementing the policy, but has had “a lot of challenges in getting people to be more active in the management of their forest.”
“We have to do better, because it’s a pretty complex area,” he admits.
These are areas where we need a lot to get right, because