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EDS calls for Minister Nash to rethink an Inquiry into plantation forestry

16 January 2023

The Environmental Defence Society is calling on the Minister of Forestry, Hon Stuart Nash, to think again about the merits of an independent Inquiry into exotic forest planting and harvest methods.

“On Morning Report today, Minister Nash said there was no need for such an inquiry. But he couldn’t explain away the very serious policy failings revealed by the disaster on the East Coast,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.

“The reality is that the public has lost confidence in the commercial plantation forest sector because these events keep happening. There has also been a series of recent prosecutions of forest companies in which the Courts have slammed the performance and cavalier attitude of forest managers. The sector has no social license to continue operating in a way that leads to sediment and slash pollution across large swathes of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Ironically, the President of the Forest Owners Association, as recently as November last year, criticised EDS for raising concerns about the environmental performance of the sector:

“Grant Dodson says the Environmental Defence Society has failed to provide any evidence of ‘significant adverse environmental impacts’ ‘in most instances’ from when plantation forests are harvested. …

Just look at the effect of the recent storms on the East Coast, where forests held and pasture collapsed on a vast scale.  The evidence is there to see in plain sight.”[1]

“The evidence is indeed there in plain sight and it’s time for FOA and Minister Nash to front up and accept that, with climate change increasing the severity and frequency of high rainfall events, the old way of managing plantation forests isn’t good enough anymore. The days of clear-felling are over. Environmental regulations need tightening.

“The Minister should focus on the interests of the wider public and accept that a fundamental reset of the policy framework is urgently required. The present tinkering with the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry isn’t going to address the much bigger issue of continuing environmental harm. The present regulatory agencies are overseeing a failing regime and can’t be relied upon to come up with effective solutions.

“An independent Public Inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2013 is needed to recommend what a modern regime for plantation forestry, that is fit for purpose in a climate-changing world, should look like.

“We respectfully call on Minister Nash to think again,” Mr Taylor concluded.

[1] https://www.nzfoa.org.nz/137-news/foa-news/foa-media-releases-2022/1701-wooden-cities-key-to-cutting-worldwide-carbon-emissions-to-combat-climate-change-4