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An open letter to Pete Hodgson and Nick Smith

An open letter to Pete and Nick - Reference to Waitutu forest - Southland

Pete Hodgson
Nick Smith
Parliament Buildings
Wellington


Dear Sirs,

I hope a clarification is not necessary on the issue raised in the parliamentary question at the bottom of this e-mail, and that the reference to Waitutu by Pete Hodgson is just the usual rhetoric and perhaps willingness to confuse. For clarification, there are TWO or in fact THREE parties undertaking indigenous forestry in Southland:

a.. 1. the Waitutu incorporation on the 12 000 hectare Longwood Rowallan beech forestry operational areas (still crown land) whose historic sustainable yield/multiple use management actually date back some 80 years or more (admittedly utilitarian) - now managed under the Forests Act provisions (and yet another example of where Kaka live in a historically managed forest as I recall - and that management being more invasive than Timberlands even dreamed of) - at least that is F&B's claim (i.e. presence of Kaka) - and of course they want the management in this Maori compensation Waitutu forest stopped irrespective of whether said management has harmed the biodiversity or not, the important thing being whether it is against their particular faith;

a.. 2. private owners managing forest also under the Part III provisions of the Forests Act (sustainable management plans - and one incidentally close to getting its international Forest Stewardship Council certification - which again F&B had a "philosophical" problem with - i.e. it involved humans using the forest for other than observation), and

a.. 3. the SILMA lands where there is generally little or no attempt at environmental sustainability in whatever form.

The last is an embarrassment to many, but needs a just outcome (it requires compensation for what were PAST compensation lands associated with an indigenous people), not the eco-fascist views of Kevin Smith et al from the Forest & Bird leadership. None touch - in my opinion - Timberland's standards and management systems, but the former two are good for all that.

The Minister's reaction to Nick Smith's question is to assume that he is referring to the Waitutu forest. It may well be that he was, but in the interests of an informed debate, please do not confuse what is going on under Forests Act sustainable management plans, and in the Waitutu forests particularly (being crown owned LAND associated at least with the Government's policy on indigenous forestry on Crown Lands) , with what is happening in the South Island Landless Maori Act lands. I raise this because I note the promotion of the confusion in the public's mind between the Buller overcut and Timberland's beech management proposals (obviously in the interests of propaganda rather than any informed debate - and, apropos, I heard that NFA had a nice line in showing journalists and even their own supporters the overcut operations while claiming representativeness with the sustainable beech and podocarp management, and Nicky Hager's book does the same) , and more specifically the oft-repeated confusion between what is happening in Orikaka (par t of the overcut) and the internationally recognised sustainable management as being applied (for the brief moment) in Saltwater and Okarito forests. The same games may spread to Southland.

On that note I hope that National and the rest of the opposition promote the following (I know others such as Guy Salmon have suggested the like before this):

a.. 1. require the eventual DOC management of these ex-Timberlands forests to be subject to the same outside scrutiny and sustainable management audit that was required of Timberlands (it is a common myth that preservation within DOC is necessarily sustaining of ecosystem health - well let's find out),

a.. 2. put pressure on the government to continue funding Timberland's standard of pest management in these latter forests (Saltwater and Okarito at least) when the administration changes hand,

a.. 3. or, should DOC stop Timberland's pest management, at least continue the bird count monitoring currently carried out by Timberlands in those forests, so that we can all follow the bird numbers following the cessation of Timberland's management

a.. 4. in addition, some sort of gazettal of ex-Timberlands forest as distinct within (or without) DOC at least until more information on biodiversity dynamics is available (and to keep open the option of a more rational and objectively-based approach to the environment).

The preservationists should have no problem with any of these, unless of course the information may damage their dogma, or they like closing off future options for sustainable management. They of course don't acknowledge that Timberlands may have actually INCREASED the biodiversity of their forests, so they can hardly believe it will decline when it moves to DOC - and one presumes they will be happy to see the science continue. Where is the risk from their point of view? In contrast, I don't think there is much dispute that biodiversity is declining in DOC forests through underfunding, or internal decision making. We await with interest the Government's continued commitment to these environmental matters.

You may think I am being touchy about these issues of confusing a clearfelling and possible land conversion operation in Southland with other forms of forestry which are in a different class - but I guess I have seen too many Machiavellian manipulations of the truth from the preservationist side over the last year - and the Prince is alive and well in the Beehive as we all can witness for ourselves. They are not interested in the distinctions between forest management types. Their interests lie with limiting the public's knowledge - and in portraying it as all clearfelling they get the mass of the public and the media on side - never mind the truth.

Yours faithfully (not really)

Chris Perley

The transcript from Nick Smith's question is below.

From questions in the House (SCOOP.CO.NZ):

Hon. Dr Nick Smith(National) to the Minister of Forestry Pete Hodgson:

Q: Which Crown-owned indigenous forests will be able to be logged as a consequence of a change in policy from that in the Speech from the Throne that refers to stopping native logging on Crown land to that released in Cabinet papers under the Official Information Act that "Government policy is to end indigenous logging on Crown-managed land as soon as is practicable"?

A: There has been no change in policy. The Speech from the Throne said moves had already been taken to stop some logging - this was a reference to actions taken to stop the Beech logging scheme.

Q: Will the logging in Southland be able to continue?

A: The forest being referred to has been effectively privatised by the previous government. It is on crown land but it is privately managed. Cutting rights have been passed to private owners on this under the Waitotu settlement.

Q: What progress has been made?

A: We have stopped the proposed beech scheme and we have proposed to end Rimu logging by March 2002. We are also committed to dealing with the SILNA issue in Southland. The moratorium has been extended quite a lot and now covers 40% of the total area.

(Nick Smith – leave to table papers – granted.)


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