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Cultural values important to forest stakeholders

3 September 2019

Māori and non- Māori value different aspects of plantation forestry, which owners should bear in mind if they want to maximise their social licence to operate, a new study shows.

In a paper published in in the international journal PLoS ONE, titled “Stakeholder valuation of soil ecosystem services from New Zealand’s planted forests”, the authors say understanding these values should also help in developing an assessment and monitoring tool for soil health in New Zealand’s planted forests.

Scientists from the Bio-Protection Research Centre and Scion surveyed 145 forest stakeholders from seven groups to find out what forest soil ecosystem services they valued most.

The seven groups were: forest owners, forest managers, land owners, land managers, wood processors, recreational forest users, and others with a vested interest in forest soils. Respondents were also asked if they identified as Māori or represented a Māori group or organisation.

Overall, achieving sustainable production (the soil’s ability to sustain forest growth over multiple plantings) was the highest-ranked ecosystem service, followed by ecosystem resilience, clean water, and maximising forest production.

All survey participants said maintaing sustainable production was most important. But Māori placed greater importance on forest ecosystem resilience, provenance and kaitiakitanga, water quality, and harvesting food and medicines from the forest.

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“It is important that cultural views are understood and integrated into future soil health testing schemes to reflect the needs of all stakeholders,” the authors say.

“In addition to providing ecosystem services for the country as a whole, planted forests in New Zealand also have a strong cultural value for Māori,” the authors write. “By formally accepting and integrating indigenous knowledge and values into soil health monitoring, we will be better positioned to inform land use decisions that affect indigenous and/or local communities.”

“Forests make up approximately 10% of the total asset base supporting the Māori economy, and there are projections that Māori may eventually own or control greater than 40% of New Zealand’s planted forests,” the authors say. “Therefore this group needs to be well represented in decision-making that affects the forestry industry.”

About the Bio-Protection Research Centre

The Bio-Protection Research Centre is a Centre of Research Excellence funded by the New Zealand Government. It was established in 2003 to drive innovation in sustainable approaches to pest, pathogen and weed control. The Centre has seven partner institutes: AgResearch, Lincoln University, Massey University, Plant & Food Research, Scion, University of Canterbury, and University of Otago, with members throughout New Zealand.


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