SILNA Lands Need Not be Brought Under Act
SILNA Lands Need Not be Brought Under the Forests Amendment Act
The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society is calling on the Government to assist the Southland and Clutha District Councils to enforce the Resource Management Act over the SILNA lands in the Catlins and in Southland.
The SILNA lands are lands that were granted to Maori under the South Island Landless Natives Act in 1906. They are remote parcels of forested lands in Southland and in the Catlins that were granted in compensation for earlier injustices. Today much of the land has already been cutover, and clearfelled. However there are some blocks where forest remains, some of which is being heavily logged and some which have high conservation values. Successive Governments and the landowners have tried unsuccessfully for decades to resolve these matters.
The Society’s Southern Conservation Officer, Sue Maturin said today that the easiest way of resolving the logging and protection issues on the SILNA (South Island Landless Natives Act) lands, is for Government to provide legal assistance to the relevant Councils to require landowners who want to log, to apply for resource consents under the Resource Management Act.
“It is clear that these lands are not exempt from the Resource Management Act, (RMA). This Act requires the sustainable management of natural resources, and it should be immediately applied to the SILNA lands.”
“The Councils have been loath to enforce the Act and the provisions of their District Plans as they seem to believe it is an issue that the Crown should sort out.” Sue Maturin said.
“However it is our view that there is no need for the Crown to legislate to bring the SILNA lands under the ambit of the Forests Amendment Act, when better environmental results can be achieved under the RMA.”
“The Society has no faith in the current administration of the Forests Amendment Act as it is not resulting in sustainable management of privately owned forests. Using tax payer money to bring the SILNA lands under its regime will not achieve sustainable management of these forests.” Sue Maturin said.
“Forest and Bird supports the use of the Nature Heritage and the Nga Whenua Rahui Funds to protect parts of the SILNA land that meet the funds criteria for protection.
“All the SILNA lands should be assessed against these criteria and if they emerge as high priority from amongst all the applications to these funds, then it would be appropriate to negotiate for their protection.”
“As we understand it the door to the funds have been open to the SILNA owners for a long time. If there are additional treaty matters to be settled, then this should be treated separately through the Minister of Treaty Settlements.” Sue Maturin said.