About Okarito, Saltwater, Maruia, rimu, beech, Okarito. Peter Allan as Secretary for the New Zealand Institute of Forestry, presents a written submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee hearing submissions on the Forests (West Coast Accord) Bill 2000, as particularly draconian piece of proposed legislation. This Bill is one of the most blatant pieces of dogmatic and unfair legislation to be placed before Parliament for many years.

SUBMISSION ON THE FORESTS (WEST COAST ACCORD) BILL


TE PUTAHI NGAHEREHERE O AOTEAROA / NEW ZEALAND INSTITUTE OF FORESTRY


17 Pipiri/June 2000

David Bagnall
The Clerk of the Committee
Local Government and Environment Select Committee
Parliament Buildings
WELLINGTON

SUBMISSION ON THE FORESTS (WEST COAST ACCORD) BILL

  1. I am making this submission on behalf of Te Putahi Ngaherehere o Aotearoa/New Zealand Institute of Forestry
  2. The Institute opposes the Bill, particularly
    1. clauses breaking a legally binding commercial contract
    2. clauses enabling the Government to end logging of indigenous forest on public land
    3. clauses cancelling the North Westland Regional Management Plan
    4. clauses enabling the Government to transfer the Accord production forests to conservation estate.
  3. Specific concerns about the Bill include:
    1. it contradicts international agreements to which New Zealand is a signatory to promote sustainable management of natural resources;
    2. it fails to provide for protection of knowledge gained from managing indigenous forests for production and meet Resource Management Act objectives;
    3. welshing on the West Coast Accord is unethical and damaging on the Crown's trustworthiness;
    4. Government is acting without any prior public consultation;
    5. management of indigenous forests for sustainable production reduces the cost of pest control and maintenance of biodiversity;
    6. cancellation of the Accord will result in very significant economic loss for the West Coast and the rest of New Zealand;
    7. breaking the West Coast Accord is unfair on the people of the West Coast;
    8. a solution for Government?
  4. The Institute wishes to speak to its submission and requests that it be heard on the West Coast.
  5. The contact person is Peter Allan, Secretary, New Zealand Institute of Forestry,
    9 Bengal Drive, Cashmere, OTAUTAHI CHRISTCHURCH 8002, telephone
    (03) 332 5345, facsimile (03) 337 4149.

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Preamble

The New Zealand Institute of Forestry/Te Putahi Ngaherehere o Aotearoa thanks Parliament for providing an opportunity and the Committee for the invitation to make a submission on the Forests (West Coast Accord) Bill.

An organisation with a proud history, the New Zealand Institute of Forestry was founded in 1927 to provide a forum where those involved in forest management, utilisation, research and consulting could exchange ideas and information and keep up to date with industry trends.

As well as the stimulus of debate and the fellowship of colleagues, the Institute encourages the highest standards of ethical and professional performance amongst it members. Today this role is even more vital in an industry that has continued to evolve and grow almost beyond recognition since its earliest days.

New Zealand Institute of Forestry membership is an acknowledgement of high levels of competence through education, experience and ability and is evidence of a member's commitment to professional practices and values.

For its part, as an organisation the Institute is committed to serving the art and practice of forestry and the wider community through education, accountability and its codes of ethics and performance standards. Increasingly it fulfils a quality assurance role, setting the benchmark for professionalism and the quality of advice and practice by which members and others in the profession are measured.

Specific concerns the Institute has about the Bill

  1. The Bill contradicts international agreements to which New Zealand is a signatory to promote sustainable management of natural resources.

    Promulgation of this Bill puts the Government at risk of breaching the international agreements that have been signed in terms of United Nations Agenda 21, which states, Forest resources and forest lands should be sustainably managed to meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations. These needs are services and products such as wood, water, food, fodder, medicine, habitats, wildlife and so on.

    Assignment of Crown indigenous forest managed for production to conservation status would be increasing the amount of land not able to meet New Zealand's obligations under the Montreal Process. In terms of the Montreal Process criteria and indicators for the sustainable management of temperate and boreal forests the members of the Montreal Process monitoring committee ascertained in 1995 that

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    they had not seen anything more sustainable than Timberlands West Coast (TWC) management of Okarito and Saltwater Forests, in terms of forest management, anywhere else in the world. They were also impressed with the TWC beech management proposals and John Wardle's operations at Oxford. It can be said that there is nothing more sustainable than managing indigenous forests for production since with relatively little management they are self sustaining. The production management proposed for West Coast Crown beech forests was nearly as benign as one can get.

    The most recent audit on New Zealand's forests for adherence to the Montreal process showed that both the TWC managed indigenous forests and New Zealand's exotic production forests met the international criteria but management of the DOC estate did not. Internationally the cancellation of the West Coast Accord (the Accord) will not only not make sense but will also tarnish New Zealand international reputation.

  2. The Bill fails to provide for protection of knowledge gained from managing indigenous forests for production and meet Resource Management Act objectives.

    The Resource Management Act which was established to apply to every member of New Zealand society. Our New Zealand law for everyone sets the goal of using resources in a way the provides for the social, economic and spiritual wellbeing of present and future generations while safe-guarding the life supporting capacity of air, soil and water and providing areas of significance such as habitats, etc.

    Cancellation of the Accord, and its primary objective for Crown indigenous production forest being sustainable production in perpetuity, signals the Government's withdrawal from the principle of sustainable use of resources. It signals a backing down from addressing the contradiction of Maori land owners being forced, in order to assure themselves of unfettered economic gain from their land, to clearfell and convert their indigenous forests to exotic plantations, while on the other hand legislatively requiring other private owners to manage their forests sustainably but yet permitting the major Crown manager of indigenous forest, the Department of Conservation (DOC), to manage indigenous forests in a manner that is not sustainable.

    Failure to maintain a national commitment to sustainable production management of Crown indigenous forests blatantly contradicts internal legislative objectives and international protocols and totally lets down the private sector. It is essential that the Crown leads the way in demonstrating sustainable production management of indigenous forests.

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    Current management techniques have been developed from seventy years of trails. While the forests are being used for production the retention of evidence of past trial work remains important. Experience from the transfer of previous indigenous production forest to DOC in 1987 was that retention of past production forest management trials became irrelevant. Therefore, it is clear that removal of the forest management commitments under the Accord will destroy decades of research that is vital to successful management of private, Maori and Crown indigenous forests in Aotearoa New Zealand as well as other parts of the world. There are both national and world-wide demands that Crown indigenous forests continue to be managed for perpetual production in order to guide others.

    It is also essential that if the Crown indigenous production forests are transferred to another agency that there be a requirement that they comply with sections 5, 6 and 7 of the Resource Management Act in the same way as every individual in New Zealand. The Institute strongly believes that New Zealand cannot afford to accept a lower set of standards by the Crown compared to those required for everyone else. Rather, the Crown should be setting a higher standard with its larger resource base so as to encourage individuals who have relatively high economic risk.

  3. Welshing on the West Coast Accord is unethical and damaging on the Crown's trustworthiness.

    The Crown twice in Court, as defendant in the High Court and respondent in the Court of Appeal, accepted the judgment that the West Coast Accord is a legally binding commercial contract. A Government dismissing the court finding and saying the Accord as history of no relevance today is signalling a level of arrogant ideology and irrationality that has been noticed by the wider community.

    Such action clearly indicates, as noted in The National Business Review, that the message being given is that government contracts aren't worth the paper they are written on. Crown Forestry licensees and other companies have cause to question the level of security they have in their investment.

    At an international conference hosted by the Institute in Christchurch in April of this year Dennis Neilson pointed out that New Zealand was comparing very favourably in the international forestry investment market. Government policies had been relatively consistent and the level of corruption and intervention on the international scale had been minimal. However, this Bill proposes to plummet New Zealand's place internationally on the scale of credible countries to invest in forestry. One of the international speakers at the Conference, who has a US$3 million portfolio for investment in forestry, stated prior to introduction of this Bill that "direct ownership of New Zealand forest assets is an excellent investment for institutional investors." This Bill clearly signals otherwise.

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  4. Government is acting without any prior public consultation.

    The Bill was introduced without previously carrying out consultation with affected parties. Labour Party election promises neither stated nor implied that the West Coast Accord would be unilaterally dissolved. This action has being taken despite the Coalition Government's claims of wanting a more collaborative approach to decision making affecting the regions. It demonstrates a disparity between words and action; the business sector has even greater cause for concern about Government's meaning of the expression, "acting in good faith", in the Employment Relations Bill. Cancelling the Accord is clearly diametrically opposite to the very intent and standards that the Government has said it expects in private sector employment relationships.

    Over the past thirty years all the forestry policies pertaining to management of West Coast forests have been developed with wide public consultation. For example, there was wide public consultation on the1959 West Coast Committee of Inquiry, Section One of the 1971 West Coast Regional Planning Scheme, the 1974 West Coast Beech Scheme proposals, the 1978 West Coast Forest Policy, the 1980/81 North Westland, South Westland and Buller Regional Management Plans, the 1986 West Coast Forests Working Party Report, the 1987 supplementary reserves proposals and the 1990 Forest Policy for New Zealand. Therefore, this "out-of-the- blue" decision de-stabilises confident regional planning, not only on the West Coast, but throughout New Zealand. It means that people in the regions cannot afford to trust the central Government of the day.

  5. Management of indigenous forests for sustainable production reduces the cost of pest control and maintenance of biodiversity.

    Cessation of the sustainable management of West Coast Crown forests for production in perpetuity sends a contradictory message to any commitment made by the Government to protecting biodiversity. Sustainable management effectively retains and promotes biodiversity in New Zealand's indigenous forests. And it also significantly reduces the cost of controlling the pests which are reducing the biodiversity of New Zealand's indigenous forests.

    Currently as a nation we are struggling with "The New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy" and "Bio-What?" to set up a framework for improving the country's biodiversity. The Institute recognised seven years ago such hiatus with respect to indigenous forests when a commitment was made to draw up an Indigenous Forest Policy. The "NZIF Indigenous Forest Policy" was launched two years ago. It advocates and supports a number of key initiatives, the first of which is a forest ecosystem approach to manage New Zealand's indigenous forests sustainably and, in

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    particular, to sustain forest productivity, health, biodiversity, soil quality, water quality, natural landscapes, and the full range of natural forest ecological processes. TWC management of the West Coast Accord indigenous production forests has been meeting all these objectives. A copy of the "NZIF Indigenous Forest Policy" is appended.

    It has been estimated that the cost of vermin control to just halt biodiversity decline of DOC indigenous forests would be $10 per hectare. Vermin control, with demonstrated improvement in native bird populations, is costing TWC $3.5 per hectare. Denial of productive use of forests allocated to production under the West Coast Accord, the majority of which incidentally have been modified in the past by various levels of logging, will firstly cost taxpayers more to protect them from vermin and secondly will forfeit pioneering work being undertaken under commercial research and development.

    A fundamental aspect of the Montreal Process, to which New Zealand is a signatory, is devising and then measuring performance against a set of objective criteria that define the sustainable management of all the country's forests. If Accord production forests are transferred to conservation estate what assurance with the public have that there will be full monitoring of the conservation effectiveness and benefits of the transfer? High quality ecological audit is essential. Monitoring of forest under different management should meet at least the same standards that are being implemented and proposed by TWC. All existing plots must be maintained the research results regularly made public and passed on to private and Maori indigenous forest owners.

  6. Cancellation of the Accord will result in very significant economic loss for the West Coast and the rest of New Zealand.

    Payment of "adjustment assistance" does little more than pay for losses to the region from Government procrastination in implementing the Accord.

    If the West Coast sustained yield beech scheme had commenced on schedule by around 1990 as signalled in the Northern West Coast Blakeley Report of 1986 the anticipated return to the region for the first eighty years would have been of the order of $55 million per annum. This figure is on top of the initially larger return from podocarp milling which was to phase down by around 2006 to a sustainable level of around $16 million per annum (with local processing only to board form). Predicted return from the sustained yield beech forests on the second and subsequent cycles was $171 million per annum.

    It is important to appreciate that indigenous forestry generates significantly more jobs per cubic metre that radiata pine. Podocarp return to the grower is three times that of
    7 radiata pine and it generates 2.5 times the employment that radiate pine does. Also as a niche market it currently generates $87 million per annum in export earnings. The benefit in furniture manufacture using indigenous species currently accrues to the metropolitan cities but under the right conditions it could directly benefit employment and economic buoyancy on the West Coast.

  7. Breaking the West Coast Accord is unfair on the people of the West Coast.

    The establishment of the Accord in 1986 was a solemn agreement implicitly entwining trust and fidelity to a long term vision. For the subsequent six years Ministers of the Crown such as Hon Phil Goff, Hon Helen Clark and Rt Hon Geoffrey Palmer continually upheld the integrity of the Accord.

    The Accord builds on almost a century of local and central government effort to achieve management of West Coast indigenous forests which is perpetually sustainable. With the Crown owning 90% of the West Coast land estate the survival of communities living on the remaining 10% has always depended on a satisfactory working relationship with the Crown in use of Crown resources. Visionaries such as Kirk at the turn of the twentieth century and Hutchinson and Foweraker in the 1920s and 1930s identified the potential for managing the beech and rimu forests of the West Coast for sustainable production.

    The Accord is also the end result of a long period of public consultation by the Crown with the public to set in place specific forestry policies for the West Coast, firstly to maintain community viability and secondly to optimise sustainable economic return from natural resources. Behind the Accord are many specific agreements with respect to managing indigenous forests, mineral recovery, establishment of exotic forests, grazing and so on.

    A number of these commitments are listed in Appendix 1. These are only in part translated into the commitments of the Accord which are listed in Appendix 2.

    It should be noted that cancellation of the North Westland Regional Management Plan under the Bill goes beyond simply stopping sustainable management of the beech, beech/podocarp and podocarp forests. It also cancels the commitment of the Crown to establish an exotic estate of 30 000 hectares in tandem with development of a local export port.

    The West Coast Accord has provided the "indigenous people" of the West Coast an assurance that the giving up of the majority of potentially manageable indigenous forests to national parks and reserves provided security of a productive resource base. The Government of the day made clear that any retreat from the production side of the Accord threatened a revisitation of all the estate set aside for reserves. For this

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    reason the allocation of most of the land to DOC and gazettal of further land to make up 400 000 hectares of national parks and reserves was accepted by the people of the West Coast. The allocation of 121 000 hectares of indigenous forest, residual to the reserve allocation exercise, to production was accepted in the knowledge that sound silvicultural management could greatly increase its productivity in the sustainable long term. Therefore it is little wonder that for the people of the West Coast the Accord is no different from the Treaty of Waitangi contract between the indigenous people of Aotearoa and the Crown.

    Good government has been identified as treating all citizens equitably.

    The West Coast carries 21% of the nation's indigenous forest on less than 10% of the nation's land area. Furthermore, 57% of West Coast private land carries indigenous forest whereas only 8.6% of the nation's private land carries indigenous forest. Reference to any land tenure and vegetation map illustrates the point and the appended table sets out the areas of indigenous forest in each region. The national need is not to take Crown indigenous production forest out of the West Coast economy but to urgently do something about building on the small fragmented remnants of indigenous forest scattered throughout the rest of New Zealand. The West Coast already has the vastly most comprehensive indigenous forest protection network anywhere in the country. The strategy of the Bill will simply result in a transfer of economic opportunity away from the West Coast and into other regions of New Zealand that through the high level of modification of their environment already have a much greater array of economic opportunity.

  8. A solution for Government?

    Government welshing on a legally binding commercial contract, such as the West Coast Accord, will do irreparable harm both domestically and internationally. The intent behind the Bill appears to be prevention of the Government being sued for cancelling the beech contracts. Facing the Government is also the dilemma of Maori indigenous forests being unsustainably managed, a stated expectation that private indigenous forests can meet the domestic market needs, and potential loss of empirical knowledge needed by the private sector.

    At the oral hearing of the 1999 Forests Amendment Bill, which sought to deal with SILNA forests, Tu Wylie, M.P. for Te Tai Tonga, expressed much interest in the potential for education of Maori land owners in sustainable management of their indigenous forests. The TWC management of West Coast Crown indigenous forests is an excellent avenue for such education and they currently provide an opportunity to capture the interest of SILNA owners.

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The Institute therefore recommends that
  1. The Forests (West Coast Accord) Bill be amended to simply specify that no compensation shall be paid to any parties affected by the halting of the West Coast beech scheme;
  2. North Okarito and Saltwater Forest sustained yield management continue;
  3. Use of the balance of indigenous forests currently managed by Timberlands West Coast be reviewed along with all the West Coast indigenous forests assigned to stewardship status in 1987 with a view to redefining forest for sustained production and forest for conservation;
  4. A Sustainability Monitoring Committee be established to monitor the sustainable management of Crown indigenous production forests, the Committee to comprise representatives of the forestry profession, Environment and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand (Inc.), Ngai Tahu, SILNA owners, and the Crown (Parliamentary Commission for the Environment, MAF Indigenous Forestry Unit and Department of Conservation) and regularly report to the public.



Peter Allan
Secretary



NEW ZEALAND INSTITUTE OF FORESTS SUBMISSION ON THE FORESTS (WEST COAST ACCORD) BILL

APPENDIX 1


A SAMPLE OF COMMITMENTS MADE BY THE CROWN TO THE WEST COAST PRIOR TO THE WEST COAST ACCORD

  1. West Coast Committee of Inquiry 1960
    Recognising the region being disadvantaged by minimal control over its resources and dependant upon sound use of Crown resources, the Government agreed that integrated sustainable use productive use of podocarp, exotics and beech forests was required as well as maximisation of local processing of the timber. As a consequence, in return for long term sales the sawmilling industry set up local processing plants aimed at 80% local processing of the sawn timber and a plywood and veneer plant were established at Gladstone.
  2. 1971 Section One, West Coast Regional Planning Scheme
    The Crown endorsed use of West Coast natural resources to ensure maintenance of community viability and the principle that reserves be established only after thorough evaluation of social and economic consequences.
  3. 1971 Government Commitment to Manage Saltwater and North Okarito Forests for Sustained Production
    In quid pro quo compensation for placing the production forests of Waikukupa and South Okarito into Westland National Park the Crown established a package of initiatives, amongst which were evaluation of indigenous forests south of the Cook River to identify those available for production, establishment of 10,000 hectares of special purpose species between the Okarito and Waitaha Rivers, and the gazetting of North Okarito and Saltwater Forests as sustained yield forests.
  4. 1975/77 Indigenous Forest Policy for New Zealand State Forest
    Government prescribed sustained yield management for all indigenous production forest capable of appropriate silvicultural systems and signalled an end to conversion of cutover indigenous forest to exotic except where socio-economically justified.
  5. 1977 Officials Committee Report on Reserves Proposals
    Government accepted gazettal of over 100,000 ha of proposed reserves on State forest which had been subject to thorough socio-economic evaluation. (N.B. The Chairman of the Scientific Co-ordinating Committee made clear at the time that the reserves were on the generous side because of Forest Service plans to convert a significant proportion of the indigenous production forest to exotic plantations or enrich hard beech forests with species such as eucalypts).


Appendix 1 (continued)


  1. 1978 West Coast Forest Policy
    Government defined the regional management units of Karamea, Buller, Inangahua, North Westland and South Westland and prescribed podocarp harvest levels, establishment of adequate supplies of exotics to sustain the sawmilling industry and the establishment of a sustained yield beech scheme.
  2. 1983 North Westland Regional Management Plan
    Government committed itself to specific management of the State forests to achieve the objectives set out in the 1978 West Coast Forest Policy. The 1980 South Westland Management Proposals and 1981 Draft Buller Regional Management Plan did likewise for South Westland (the area south of the Waitaha River) and Buller (the area encompassed in Buller County).
  3. (Northern) West Coast Forests Working Party Report, 31 October 1986
    Government adopted the Report which endorsed establishment of 3,000 hectares of exotic plantations in Buller and the North Westland Regional Management Plan which provided for establishment of 30,000 hectares of exotic plantations in North Westland, temporary over-cutting of podocarp forests until exotics became available in each sub-region in adequate quantity to sustain the local sawmilling industry and the establishment of a beech scheme with a log input of no less than 150,000 m3 per annum. (A Blakeley South Westland Working Party was set up to allocate forests to allocate forests south of the Cook River).
  4. Contract with Timberlands West Coast toEstablish 10,000 hectares of Special Purpose Species in South Westland
    In recognition that fulfillment of the Crown's offer in Covenant 10 of the West Coast Accord would require an up front sum of $27 million instead of the $1 million offered, the Crown entered into an agreement around 1992 to fulfil the special purpose species commitment and contributed a sum of $6 million towards it.

NEW ZEALAND INSTITUTE OF FORESTS SUBMISSION ON THE FORESTS (WEST COAST ACCORD) BILL

APPENDIX 2

WEST COAST ACCORD COMMITMENTS

Recital 1
The Accord is an overall strategy for West Coast State forests.

Recital 2
The Accord provides for the gazettal of reserves and the Paparoa National Park

Recital 3
The Accord provides for allocation of sufficient indigenous production forest areas to make possible the maintenance of the West Coast sawmilling industry until adequate exotic resource became available.

Covenant 1
Provides for gazettal of additional national park and reserves.

Covenant 2
Provides for development of Pike coal field.

Covenant 3 Provides for continuation of current mining operations in reserves.

Covenant 4
Provides for all identified State forest production areas to be managed on a commercial basis and for the indigenous forests to be managed to allow a continuing supply of indigenous timber in perpetuity.

Covenant 5
Provides additional constraints on the already gazetted sustained yield management of North Okarito and Saltwater State Forests.

Covenant 6
Provides for remaining State forest outside of reserves, protection zones and production areas to be classified as stewardship areas and allocated to DOC until ultimate use could be determined.

Covenant 7
Provides for exotic forested areas in wildlife corridors to be managed for production.

Appendix 2 (continued)

Covenant 8
Provides for tenders to be called to extend Buller and Karamea podocarp licences three years.

Covenant 9
Provides for a sustained yield beech scheme to proceed.

Covenant 10
Offers the West Coast United Council $1 million to buy out the Crown commitment to planting of special purpose timber species in South Westland subject to the United Council having or obtaining the necessary statutory authority, and obtaining a satisfactory agreement with her Majesty the Queen.

Covenant 11
Commits the Crown to consult with the West Coast Regional Council on the need for transitional assistance in Karamea due to reserves affecting sawmill survival subject to the United Council having or obtaining the necessary statutory authority, and obtaining a satisfactory agreement with her Majesty the Queen.

Covenant 12
Commits the Crown to enter into an agreement confirming in greater detail the covenants.

Covenant 13

Provides for the Accord to be effective upon all parties signing it.

Dated sixth day of November 1986.