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Friends of the Maitai call for Council action on forestry

Friends of the Maitai call for Council action on forestry

The community action group Friends of the Maitai is calling on Council to take action on forestry practice.

The recent Cyclone Gita floods in Marahau, Riwaka and Motueka Valley highlighted problems with forestry practice, and Friends of the Maitai spokesperson Tom Kennedy said the Maitai was also affected by sediment from forestry. He said while the group was supportive of the work done by Council under Project Maitai-Mahitahi, significant action needed to be taken on forestry.

‘We have been pleased to work alongside Council on issues such as water-testing, community education, planting days, the Nelson Plan - Freshwater, whitebait habitat, the Groom Creek wetland, and the new interpretive signs along the river,” he says. “However, we’ve struck a block in getting any positive changes to forestry practice which is the real source of the sediment in the river. Until that is addressed there will be no improvement in the water quality, the recurrence of toxic algae and the threat to bio-diversity.”

‘The council staff we have enjoyed working with over the past three years are a dedicated and knowledgeable group of professionals. However, they have been constrained by convoluted regulations, never-ending plan reviews and insufficient resources to adequately address the problems of compliance and monitoring of forestry operations,” Kennedy said.

Friends of the Maitai say research by Cawthron and NIWA backs their view that there will be no significant improvement in water quality until forestry companies reduce the sediment coming from cut-over areas.

“The forestry sector needs to reduce the size of clear felled areas, do more riparian planting, particularly in smaller streams and gullies, and diversify away from mono-culture Pinus radiata,” Kennedy said. “We’ve had meetings with forestry companies, but realistically these steps won’t happen without action from Council.”

Kennedy described the Maitai River as one of Nelson’s most significant environmental assets, and its most valuable recreational asset: “It is used year-round by walkers and cyclists and in the recent hot summer weather there were cars parked nose-to-tail along the road between Waahi Taakaaro (Sunday Hole) and Black Hole.”

Kennedy said the Friends of the Maitai were looking forward to working with council under the new Healthy Streams project, which would take over from Project Maitai-Mahitahi; and would be submitting to the Council Long Term Plan on the need for forestry to be more effectively regulated.

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