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New North Island Indigenous Forestry team

New North Island Indigenous Forestry team established

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will be stepping up its monitoring of indigenous forests in the North Island.

A new team of forestry advisers has recently been appointed and will be based at the Ministry’s Rotorua office.

MAF Indigenous Forestry Manager, Rob Miller says MAF has opened up an office in Rotorua to provide a better service to North Island owners of indigenous forests.

The Indigenous Forestry Unit administers sustainable indigenous forestry on private land. This allows forest owners and operators to apply for approvals to harvest and mill native timber provided it is undertaken on the basis of long term sustainability of the forest.

“The harvesting from native forests is set at a rate that is not greater than the forest’s ability to replace the harvested timber. Management must ensure the forests natural values are maintained along with their ability to continue to provide a full range of products and amenities in perpetuity,” says Mr Miller.

Mr Miller says there has been some concern that a few forest owners and sawmillers are taking advantage of current high prices for Rimu and other native logs and are harvesting trees illegally. He says these people are now more likely to get caught and prosecuted.

The indigenous forestry unit has also formed closer links with the Special Investigations Group within MAF and as a result a full time investigator will be assigned to forestry compliance.

Until now the unit has been based entirely in Christchurch.

It’s estimated that there are about half a million hectares of privately owned indigenous forestry in the North Island. That’s about half of the privately owned indigenous forestry in the country.

Mr Miller says the three new Rotorua-based advisers are now within a few hours drive of most of the indigenous North Island forest particularly around the Gisborne, Manawatu/Wanganui and Taranaki areas.

He says as well as monitoring compliance, the new office will be able to provide a more efficient and effective service with an immediate face-to-face response.

“It will enable us to be on the ground advising and educating forest owners about sustainable indigenous forest management. Another advantage is that applications will be turned around much more quickly and efficiently through improved procedures and more timely inspections. This is good news for the majority operating within the law but it will also make us more effective in ensuring that those who obtain approval are sticking to the rules.”

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