Small scale woodlot owners should have their say

Thursday 6 Apr 2023

The outgoing President of New Zealand’s Farm Forestry Association says it has been vital for farm foresters to directly address the Ministerial Inquiry into forestry and other land use in Tairāwhiti.

Graham West has told the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association annual conference in Timaru, that the Inquiry Panel was keen to hear verbal submissions from him and particularly the Gisborne East Coast Branch of Farm Forestry Association.

“All the media attention since the cyclones hit the region has been on harvest residue and the role of the larger forest growers. But there are farmers in the region, and also small institutional investors, who will want their local forest interests represented as well,” Graham West said.

“These would range from wanting to be consulted about any regulations which might be introduced, through to compensation for managed retreat. For instance, we hear forest owners will not be compensated by the government’s reconstruction package. Why isn’t this primary sector supported in the national interest as farming and horticulture is?”

“Any recommendation from the Inquiry, or a resulting regulation, might be insignificant for a larger company. But it could create real difficulty for a woodlot owner. We want to see small scale forestry expertise used in the solutions, particularly if it relates to tree species other than radiata pine,” Graham West said.

Latest figures from the National Exotic Forest Description show there are more 30 thousand hectares of woodlot forests smaller than 50 hectares in Gisborne and Wairoa. Graham West says there is likely to additionally be more than four thousand investors who have bought a direct stake in forests in the region.

“Local farmers have planted large areas of trees on their properties in Tairāwhiti. Numbers of ordinary New Zealanders have invested as well. Iwi have a huge forestry stake.”

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Source: New Zealand Farm Forestry Association

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