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Council Fails To Control Indigenous Logging

Tasman District Council Fails To Control Indigenous Logging

Friday July 20, 2001 - Wellington

The "Forever Beech" logging controversy highlights the problems caused by inadequate controls on logging indigenous forest on private land, the Forest and Bird Protection Society says.

"The Tasman District Council has failed to examine the impacts of logging and implement its responsibilities under the Resource Management Act," Forest and Bird, field officer, Eugenie Sage said.

"Logging is proposed on 23 properties in the Maruia Valley and around Murchison. Some of these forests are in areas of high wildlife and scenic value."

The Tasman Resource Management Plan allows logging of any indigenous forests, regardless of their importance, as a permitted activity if the landholder has a "sustainable" management plan or permit approved by the Ministry of Forestry under the Forests Act.

"This means that loggers do not have to apply for a resource consent, there is no opportunity for public involvement, nor any assessment under the Resource Management Act of logging's impacts on wildlife, ecological and landscape values and the healthy functioning of the forest."

Ms Sage said the Tasman Resource Management Plan has some of the weakest controls on forest logging, wetland drainage, and similar destruction and degradation of indigenous vegetation and habitats of any district plan in the South Island.

"The continuing loss of indigenous biodiversity, especially in lowland habitats is New Zealand's most pervasive environmental problem. The Council's hands-off approach fails to address this."

"In April 2000 Forest and Bird appealed the Plan provisions covering destruction and degradation of indigenous habitats to the Environment Court. The case has yet to be heard by the Court."

"The weak Plan provisions are largely a result of the Council caving in to rural landholders' opposition to regulatory controls on habitat destruction and logging."

"Forever Beech's logging scheme highlights the problems of relying on a voluntary regime which trusts landholders to protect remaining indigenous forests, wetlands, shrublands and other vegetation. It does not work."

"Some landholders are responsible and care for remnant indigenous areas. Others are more attracted, however, by the financial returns from logging indigenous forests, converting shrublands to dairying pasture or draining wetlands."

"The proposed National Policy Statement on Biodiversity needs to include a strong direction to local authorities to regulate the degradation and destruction of indigenous habitats. The Forests Act and its application is also in need of a major overhaul," Ms Sage said.

"There are many shortcomings in the implementation of the Forests Act. MAF's Indigenous Forestry Unit rubber stamps applications for "sustainable management" plans and permits, there is no opportunity for public comment and there is no requirement for the Unit to heed advice from the Department of Conservation."

Ends


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