Environmental Tick For Crown/Maori Trust Forests
28 May 2002
Two central North Island forests, jointly managed by the Crown and Maori trusts, have been awarded a significant international certificate for their commitment to a high standard of environmental protection.
The Lake Taupo and Rotoaira Forests, which collectively comprise 46,000 hectares with an annual production of 660,000 cubic metres of logs, have both been approved for Forest Stewardship Council certification – an international ‘seal of approval’ which will give their forest products a competitive edge in the global marketplace.
The Forest Stewardship Council is a non-profit organisation committed to supporting the environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests. In order to achieve certification, forests must pass a rigorous audit. They are then entitled to use the FSC’s labelling scheme, which gives buyers a credible guarantee that the product comes from forests that are responsibly managed, in accordance with the Council’s rules.
Lake Taupo and Rotoaira Forest Trusts Manager, George Asher, says that guarantee gives the product a marketing edge. “A number of our customers are selling into markets, particularly in the United States, that are now requiring this certification,” Mr Asher says. “We also have people selling into Europe where some of the retail chains have buying policies which demand it. Of the many certification standards being used internationally, this FSC standard is the only one that has the backing of the international environmental movement.”
The Lake Taupo and Rotoaira Forests are a unique holder of FSC certification, due to their management as a joint venture between the Government and two Maori trusts. The forests are both established on land leased by the Crown from Maori landowners, and are managed by a forest management company, New Zealand Forest Managers Ltd., which undertakes the day to day operation.
George Asher says the certification is a formal acknowledgement of the high standard of environmental protection already embodied in the lease arrangement between the Crown and the Trusts. “Ngati Tuwharetoa maintain strong ancestral attachment to their lands. Our leases already contain strong environmental management objectives that reflect our customary values.”
Crown Forestry’s General Manager Charles Schell, says the certification is a credit to everyone involved in the forests. “The auditors spent ten days looking at our operation, talking to stakeholders and customers. It went far wider than just making money and protecting the forest environment. An environmentalist looked at the protection of riverside reserves and flora and fauna, and a sociologist considered how we rated as an employer and our interaction with neighbouring communities.”
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, through the Crown Forestry Group, administers the Crown’s remaining interest in planted forests. The Government is the country’s eighth largest forest owner, running a forestry business with a turnover of more than one million dollars a week.