Forestry: No beauty in the beast

File pictue
Ian Graham
Ian Graham

COLUMN

The geographically isolated Tairawhiti region has natural beauty with its hills, coastline and sunshine, and that brings with it a certain smugness for long-term residents.

Because of our isolation, we need to protect our image to outsiders and a developing tourism industry. I refer now to the blanket planting of pinus radiata over 19 percent of this region, predominately owned (75 percent at an educated guess) by foreigners.

With no comfort to those in the industry, it does come with a much less than flattering image in the eyes of most, noted by two Maori politicians during the election campaign. If we reach a point where other New Zealanders’ image of the East Coast is of pine trees and they label us a forestry region (we are not there yet), we have a problem.

There is nothing aesthetically pleasing in pine plantations, let alone the visual obscenity post-harvest. The recent “cup of tea” council-run meetings throughout the district were dominated with complaints to do with forestry: Rural roads wrecked and not fixed, dangerous and arrogant driving by some log truck drivers, dust, noise, pollen issues and poor practice.

We have the endless pictures of rolled trucks, the driving of these multi-tonne trucks through our city as though they were in a car, casually honking horns, attacking roundabouts and speeding, apparently with no control or authority by their industry. So many complaining letters to the editor over the years.

Our district is simply not coping with the negatives of this industry — at a head now as our roads literally sink. And to think that locals endure this so the logs owned 75 percent by outsiders can be exported in raw form. And even if the roads were being repaired, we would be dealing with endless roadworks.

This government-incentivised industry must not be seen as a growth one. The residents of this region have been dramatically let down by central government, by the industry and by those who put themselves forward locally as leaders.

Why is it their plan was to cart the logs from almost every tree planted along the state highways right into the middle of our city, to drop them off at a pint-sized port with virtually no storage area?! Was there a well-thought-through plan? Of course there wasn’t. Yes, bugger the residents of the East Coast.

So we now have a port spending over $100 million of community money and willing us to feel warm and fuzzy about it. These same people disingenuously quote sustainability as well as GDP figures, a statistic that has dubious benefit nationally let alone applying it on a regional basis in an attempt to imply betterment for the region.

There are pathetic pickings for this region from the so-called trickle down effect: there is no “money go round” because we don’t own the logs. The port makes a profit, yes, and a dividend from Eastland Group to the ECT, but then we can’t even get a power rebate from them.

We had high unemployment when the trees were planted and we still have high unemployment 30 years later as the trees come out: Oh, that worked well.

There is an unfair expectation for locals to suffer this nonsense in silence.

The geographically isolated Tairawhiti region has natural beauty with its hills, coastline and sunshine, and that brings with it a certain smugness for long-term residents.

Because of our isolation, we need to protect our image to outsiders and a developing tourism industry. I refer now to the blanket planting of pinus radiata over 19 percent of this region, predominately owned (75 percent at an educated guess) by foreigners.

With no comfort to those in the industry, it does come with a much less than flattering image in the eyes of most, noted by two Maori politicians during the election campaign. If we reach a point where other New Zealanders’ image of the East Coast is of pine trees and they label us a forestry region (we are not there yet), we have a problem.

There is nothing aesthetically pleasing in pine plantations, let alone the visual obscenity post-harvest. The recent “cup of tea” council-run meetings throughout the district were dominated with complaints to do with forestry: Rural roads wrecked and not fixed, dangerous and arrogant driving by some log truck drivers, dust, noise, pollen issues and poor practice.

We have the endless pictures of rolled trucks, the driving of these multi-tonne trucks through our city as though they were in a car, casually honking horns, attacking roundabouts and speeding, apparently with no control or authority by their industry. So many complaining letters to the editor over the years.

Our district is simply not coping with the negatives of this industry — at a head now as our roads literally sink. And to think that locals endure this so the logs owned 75 percent by outsiders can be exported in raw form. And even if the roads were being repaired, we would be dealing with endless roadworks.

This government-incentivised industry must not be seen as a growth one. The residents of this region have been dramatically let down by central government, by the industry and by those who put themselves forward locally as leaders.

Why is it their plan was to cart the logs from almost every tree planted along the state highways right into the middle of our city, to drop them off at a pint-sized port with virtually no storage area?! Was there a well-thought-through plan? Of course there wasn’t. Yes, bugger the residents of the East Coast.

So we now have a port spending over $100 million of community money and willing us to feel warm and fuzzy about it. These same people disingenuously quote sustainability as well as GDP figures, a statistic that has dubious benefit nationally let alone applying it on a regional basis in an attempt to imply betterment for the region.

There are pathetic pickings for this region from the so-called trickle down effect: there is no “money go round” because we don’t own the logs. The port makes a profit, yes, and a dividend from Eastland Group to the ECT, but then we can’t even get a power rebate from them.

We had high unemployment when the trees were planted and we still have high unemployment 30 years later as the trees come out: Oh, that worked well.

There is an unfair expectation for locals to suffer this nonsense in silence.

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anonymous - 4 days ago
Regarding the forestry column written by Mr Graham: I'd like to see a spreadsheet documenting the money trail of the 2 million-plus tonnes of logs that will be exported from Gisborne this year. Then we could all see who benefits and if the impact of the logging industry on the residents of the East Coast is worth it.

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