Forestry 100pc responsible

LETTER

Spending time in these forests hunting gives a good idea of what is going on.

Hunting is good when pine trees are planted as you can walk anywhere you like. Animals graze there where the grass can still grow. I have been in all of these forests in the past.

As the pines grow taller they are pruned heavily to enable the trees to grow nicely without forking. We didn’t like it after pruning, because all the pruning slash was cut off the trees and left where it fell. It was impossible to walk through the forest any more. There were mountains of cut-off branches/slash piled up to about shoulder height.

To move around hunting it was best along ridges or streams. However, pine trees were planted right close to the streams, to use all the land possible to make it more economic.

Herein lies the problem. We read that the mid slopes (ah yeah?) is where the slash came from. Unless the higher land as well as slash slipped in a landslide, the slash would stay hooked up and less likely to reach the streams. Because the trees are planted right down to the streams and slash is left there where the trees are planted, rain events — that are not uncommon on the East Coast — wash this debris and erosion-prone soils into flooded waterways, and cause what has happened to the farming and Tolaga Bay community.

In my opinion, 100 percent of the cause is forestry and not GDC — which means it looks like ratepayers are going to be coughing up for something they never did.

As somebody suggested, planting natives as a barrier up to 25 metres either side of streams would be a solution. Natives are stable along with the ground under them, and could be left long-term.

Alain Jorion

Spending time in these forests hunting gives a good idea of what is going on.

Hunting is good when pine trees are planted as you can walk anywhere you like. Animals graze there where the grass can still grow. I have been in all of these forests in the past.

As the pines grow taller they are pruned heavily to enable the trees to grow nicely without forking. We didn’t like it after pruning, because all the pruning slash was cut off the trees and left where it fell. It was impossible to walk through the forest any more. There were mountains of cut-off branches/slash piled up to about shoulder height.

To move around hunting it was best along ridges or streams. However, pine trees were planted right close to the streams, to use all the land possible to make it more economic.

Herein lies the problem. We read that the mid slopes (ah yeah?) is where the slash came from. Unless the higher land as well as slash slipped in a landslide, the slash would stay hooked up and less likely to reach the streams. Because the trees are planted right down to the streams and slash is left there where the trees are planted, rain events — that are not uncommon on the East Coast — wash this debris and erosion-prone soils into flooded waterways, and cause what has happened to the farming and Tolaga Bay community.

In my opinion, 100 percent of the cause is forestry and not GDC — which means it looks like ratepayers are going to be coughing up for something they never did.

As somebody suggested, planting natives as a barrier up to 25 metres either side of streams would be a solution. Natives are stable along with the ground under them, and could be left long-term.

Alain Jorion

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Tony Lee - 6 months ago
Mr Jorion, the native planting described in your final paragraph appears on face value to be very sensible. I'd be very interested in feedback from environmental scientists.

Lara Meyer - 6 months ago
I must begin by stating I am from a forestry whanau. I was talking with people in their 50s this weekend about the issue of logs coming off hills after heavy rain events. No one is happy that trees are ending up on land and on the coast.
One gentleman reminded the rest of us of the huge number of logs that would come down the river near Manutuke after heavy weather. Those logs were natives, according to him. He was pretty emphatic that he was very young (about 10 years old) which puts those events well before plantation forestry. He said huge piles of logs would end up on the beaches. He said one lot was burnt on the beach and that the huge pile burnt for nearly three months. Trying to apportion blame to one industry does not help us work out how to protect our resources. We are dealing, it would seem, with increasingly severe and unpredictable weather events. We need to put our heads together and find solutions which will support the environment, ecology and provide for a sound economic future for the region. The fallout from last weekend's huge rainfall is not 100% the fault of forestry so please don't catastrophise, it isn't helpful right now.

Mark Brown - 6 months ago
Hi Alain
Pruning and thinning takes place from year 5 to year 12 (generally based on growth conditions) and pruning takes place to maximise clear wood (wood without knots). Thinning takes place to maximise growth of these pruned trees. Harvesting takes place at year 25-28. So you are saying slash remains for 23 years. This would be extraordinary considering organic matter breakdown rates.
I would agree planting has taken place, in some cases, too close to waterways.
In the past, it was the case of maximising returns from the available land and under the 1990s forest planting subsidies (which we are harvesting now), waterways and the possible impact on the environment during harvest 25 years into the future were not a consideration.
We in essence are paying now for past decision-making. NZ continues to make these decisions without due consideration for the environment.
Due to local and central government decisions for instance, the dairy herds in NZ have now reached 3.5 million - this is equivalent to a population of 70 million people in terms of effluent output! Was there any thought to impact?
The forest industry, as of the 1st of May, has to comply with stringent environmental standards under the National Environmental Standard for Production Forests. These standards have strict rules (depending on land classification) regarding planting distances to waterways, volume of earthworks permitted etc. This standard has been in the making since 2013. It was instigated by the forest industry and, in consultation with central govt, is now legislation.
The forest industry is very conscious of the impact it has on the environment and downstream impacts. Forestry has worked hard to mitigate effects and has put its hand up to deal with issues, hence the effort by forest companies to support and clean-up the issues arising from the recent event.
The industry does need to be more introspective about its practices and consider more closely its impact, especially when weather events experienced recently will occur on a more frequent basis due to global warming.

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