Forestry benefits less obvious

LETTER

I was dismayed by the story following last week’s forestry poll. Dismayed, but not surprised.

The negatives of forestry in this region are obvious, while the positives are much harder to see. For example, how good do the recently-logged hills look, and how do you like the slash on the beach? They are not issues that will go unnoticed.

What about the positives? How do you measure the value of all the floods we’ve avoided because the sediment load in the rivers has been reduced by re-foresting the catchment? The dirt that comes down the river with a debris flow is nothing compared to what would have happened if catchments remained cleared.

To put this into context, one of the drivers for the GDC’s predecessor asking the forest industry to come to town was a fear that the Poverty Bay Flats would have been rendered unusable by a silted up Waipaoa River continually bursting its banks. If you don’t believe this would have happened, consider that following land clearance the bed of the Waipaoa rose so much that it buried bridges and schools in mud. The Waipaoa Freezing Works closed down after the river silted up so much that boats could no longer access it. The river mouth of the Waipaoa shifted 1km to the south due to the sediment flowing out of it.

All of this information and more is readily available for those who care to read it but it does still require a bit more research and consideration than looking at slash on a beach or a queue of log trucks and deciding you don’t like forestry.

Is the decision made decades ago to plant the erodible catchments in pine causing issues today? Yes. Given the knowledge at the time, was it a reasonable decision for 1950s Gisborne to make? Probably. Would New Zealand make the same decision today? Yes, as evidenced by the government subsidies still available to plant pine on erosion prone land.

Is it fair to judge the industry without a thorough understanding of all the contributing factors and trade-offs?

A concerned resident

I was dismayed by the story following last week’s forestry poll. Dismayed, but not surprised.

The negatives of forestry in this region are obvious, while the positives are much harder to see. For example, how good do the recently-logged hills look, and how do you like the slash on the beach? They are not issues that will go unnoticed.

What about the positives? How do you measure the value of all the floods we’ve avoided because the sediment load in the rivers has been reduced by re-foresting the catchment? The dirt that comes down the river with a debris flow is nothing compared to what would have happened if catchments remained cleared.

To put this into context, one of the drivers for the GDC’s predecessor asking the forest industry to come to town was a fear that the Poverty Bay Flats would have been rendered unusable by a silted up Waipaoa River continually bursting its banks. If you don’t believe this would have happened, consider that following land clearance the bed of the Waipaoa rose so much that it buried bridges and schools in mud. The Waipaoa Freezing Works closed down after the river silted up so much that boats could no longer access it. The river mouth of the Waipaoa shifted 1km to the south due to the sediment flowing out of it.

All of this information and more is readily available for those who care to read it but it does still require a bit more research and consideration than looking at slash on a beach or a queue of log trucks and deciding you don’t like forestry.

Is the decision made decades ago to plant the erodible catchments in pine causing issues today? Yes. Given the knowledge at the time, was it a reasonable decision for 1950s Gisborne to make? Probably. Would New Zealand make the same decision today? Yes, as evidenced by the government subsidies still available to plant pine on erosion prone land.

Is it fair to judge the industry without a thorough understanding of all the contributing factors and trade-offs?

A concerned resident

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you support the $6 million proposal for Rugby Park, which includes synthetic turf, an athletics track, additional sportsfield, all-weather sports pavilion and conference/function centre?