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SUBMISSION ON RESOURCE CONSENT APPLICATION UNDER SECTION 96 OF THE RESOURCE MANAGEMENT ACT 1991

To:     Tasman District Council and Buller District Council

From: Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc.
(Central Office), PO Box 631, Wellington

15 November 1999


STATEMENT OF SUBMISSION ON APPLICATION BY TIMBERLANDS WEST COAST LTD FOR BEECH LOGGING IN GREY, INANGAHUA AND MARUIA FORESTS

Type of Consents : LAND USE AND LAND DISTURBANCE CONSENTS TO UNDERTAKE "SUSTAINABLE" BEECH FOREST MANAGEMENT AND FOR WORKS AND STRUCTURES IN, ON, UNDER AND OVER THE BEDS OF RIVERS

APPLICATION 99/75 - BULLER DISTRICT COUNCIL
APPLICATION             TASMAN DISTRICT COUNCIL



1.           Introduction

The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society Inc. (Forest and Bird) has campaigned for the last 75 years for the protection of New Zealand's native species and the habitats on which they depend. Around 38,000 New Zealanders in 56 branches nation wide belong to Forest and Bird, supporting the Society's objectives of secure protection for native species, ecosystems, and landforms. This submission is on behalf of the Central Office of the Society. It is in addition to submissions by individual branches and members of the Society and should not be read as derogating from those submissions.

2.           This submission opposes the entire application.

3.           Reasons for submission

    1.       The application fails to consider adequately alternative methods or areas to prevent or reduce adverse effects as required by the Fourth Schedule.

    2.       Inadequate information
Inadequate information is provided and the assessment of effects does not satisfy the requirements of section 88 and the Fourth Schedule of the Resource Management Act.

The Assessment of Environmental Effects is deficient in even basic information. For example there is no information on: the actual logging rates, the size of these trees, the numbers of trees to be logged annually and cumulatively during the 35 year term, the size of these trees, the size of the application area, the area which will be affected by logging during the consent term and its location. The
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98,000 ha figure refers to all of the beech scheme area. Not all of this is in the Buller or Tasman District.

Without a detailed description of the areas to be logged, the current stocking rates, the number of trees and the size classes taken from particular areas and the time period over which this is to occur the adverse effects of this cannot be adequately assessed.

The AEE repeatedly refers to management plans for individual working circles. However Timberlands has specifically excluded these documents from being part of the application so the information in them is irrelevant and cannot be considered. The AEE says "These documents ...... also provide additional supporting information for this application, but do not form part of the applications." (AEE p5 para 1.3).

The AEE refers to management plans for the Maruia and Inangahua Forests prepared in August and September 1998 and an Overview Plan prepared in September 1998 for the MAF public submission process. The AEE contains numerous claims about adverse only being minor yet does not substantiate these. No research information is provided which establishes what the actual effects of forest age, structure, habitat values will be from logging at the intensity proposed by Timberlands.

The AEE makes many broad generalisations but lacks the detailed information necessary to assess adverse effects. Example of this include:
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  3.     The effects of the proposal will be contrary to Part II of the Resource Management Act

  The effects of the proposal will be contrary to Part II of the Resource Management Act in particular:

a)   Section 5. The activity does not sustain the life supporting capacity of air, water and soil and forest ecosystems and adverse effects are not avoided, remedied or mitigated.

The applicant makes repeated claims that logging regime (sic) replicates natural disturbance patterns. It fails to recognise that its logging and disturbance is additional to natural mortality. No research is provided which clearly establishes that any increased growth rates as a result of reduced competition will compensate for trees felled.


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Logging will increase disturbance by an unknown factor. The effects of this additional human induced disturbance on top of natural disturbance events (such as windthrows) on forest growth, structure, health and habitat values are not discussed.

The Landcare Research analysis of Timberlands' proposed logging and management regime and the revised model produced by Landcare Research shows that the number of larger older trees is likely to be reduced under most logging options. The forests will progressively lose their old growth character. Their capacity to support the current diversity, distribution and abundance of indigenous plant and animal species will be reduced.

Older trees with holes and rotting cavities are important as nesting, roosting and foraging sites for native wildlife such as kaka, parakeets and native bats, all at risk of extinction. A reduction in available habitat is likely to significantly reduce the ability of these species to survive in forests managed by Timberlands.

Inadequate information is provided to show that logging and associated management activities will not adversely affect wildlife. "Avifauna remains one of the greatest unknowns in terms of the effects of any management". (Overview Plan, p 169). Research shows that past logging techniques have had considerable impacts on wildlife and led to significant declines in threatened native species, particularly birds. Research shows that obligate forest-dwellers disappear from logged forest. No information is presented which suggests that the proposed logging will be any different.

The extensive new roading proposed will fragment now intact habitat, degrade areas with high conservation values, create additional edge effects, possibly increase the risk of wind throw and provide corridors for transport and invasion by ecological weeds and pests.

The "permissible" logging levels for sawlog extraction for individual beech species are based on a model prepared for tropical forests. The model relies on continuous recruitment where new seedlings establish, survive and grow to become small trees. In the absence of any research base there is no certainty that the model and the assumptions which it contains about recruitment apply to New Zealand beech forests. A substantial "leap of faith" is required in applying the model to New Zealand conditions.

The model is an equilibrium based model which assumes that mortality = growth and that this is true for all species. There is little actual data on mortality and growth from permanent plots in beech forest to substantiate this.

The matrix model used to determine annual growth increment and the timber volumes which can be extracted assumes exponential growth rates in remaining trees. There are no research trials using similar forest types to those proposed for logging which establishes conclusively the actual (timber) and biomass productivity over a given area of beech forest. Without this information, the accuracy of the model is unknown.

The growth rates, mortality rates, composition and structure of beech stands is likely to vary considerably across the forests Timberlands manages. Timberlands' extraction rates are based on crude average growth rates for broad tree diameter classes rather than site specific


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protocols. Logging on the basis of an average growth rate for a tree diameter class is likely to result in considerable "over-cutting" on some sites and "under-cutting" on others. Use of an average growth rate is also inappropriate because stem numbers are unevenly distributed through each diameter class.

Using site specific protocols would have better recognised natural forest dynamics. The current model fails to do this. The failure to state the extent of the variability in the growth rate data which the model is based on is a major short-coming.

Intact forests provide a valuable carbon sink. Felling trees and producing timber will reduce the capacity of the forests to absorb carbon and may increase carbon emissions and New Zealand's contribution to climate change.

Reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations
Indigenous forest habitat, particularly lowland forest has been substantially destroyed in New Zealand. Future generations are likely to need healthy areas of forest habitat, particularly accessible lowland forest and areas of forest habitat which sustain a wide variety of indigenous species. Logging, earthworks and associated activities will seriously degrade this habitat and reduce the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Enabling people to provide for their social, economic and cultural wellbeing
Declining the application and protecting the forests for conservation and tourism would better enable communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural wellbeing. There is no certainty that the new jobs promised by the applicant will eventuate and no information is provided to substantiate their claims of 200 plus new jobs.

The beech scheme will provide scant benefits to the forests' owners - the Crown and the public because of the low royalty and rare dividend payments by the applicant.

Beech management will not provide benefits and wellbeing to the wider national community that would justify any of the matters in sections 6 or 7 RMA being set aside.

b) Section 6(a), which requires that the protection of the natural character of wetlands, lakes, river and their margins be recognised and provided for.

Streamside management zones in which no logging will occur are only provided for on rivers and streams with a bed width of more than 3 metres. Riparian vegetation along smaller streams will be logged. Small streams are important habitats for native fish, especially banded kokopu, long finned eels and bullies. Logging in their riparian margins is likely to increase inflows of sediments, nutrients and organic matter with adverse effects on stream functioning and their habitat values for threatened species. Removal of riparian vegetation may also affect flow patterns. Logging in riparian margins may affect shading and stream temperatures and may also adversely affect the invertebrate food supply for native fish. Those potential adverse effects are nowhere examined.


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There is no certainty that riparian areas alongside larger streams will be protected by the streamside management protocols. Forest and Bird has evidence of the company logging in riparian areas which according to the streamside management protocols should not be logged.

Construction of culverts, bridges and similar structures may impede fish passage and increase sediment loadings in streams.

c) Section 6(b), which requires that the protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes be recognised and provided for.

There is no indication that any assessment of landscape values has been done. Some areas have been reserved from immediate logging. There is no information to assess whether these constitute all outstanding natural features and landscapes.

d) Section 6(c), which requires the protection of areas of significant indigenous vegetation and significant habitats of indigenous flora be recognised and provided for.

Timberlands claims that it has identified significant areas and these will not be logged. Timberlands has interpreted "significant" in terms of the RMA too narrowly by focussing on seeking to protect what is "rare or unique".

The forests in the application area are a significant habitat for indigenous fauna and contain significant indigenous vegetation. They support significant populations of 24 indigenous forest birds including six nationally threatened and two regionally threatened species, two threatened bats and several threatened fish species. (DoC 15 June 1998). These threatened species include: long tailed bats, South Island kaka, New Zealand falcon, blue duck, weka and kea, and short-jawed kokopu. Threatened plant species such as mistletoe are also present.

Much of the forests in the application area, especially in the Maruia valley and parts of the eastern Paparoas and Orikaka are pristine, old growth forest with high ecological values. They deserve protection under section 6(c).

No published, peer reviewed research is available to support the claims in the AEE that bird numbers are increasing in Okarito forest.

The company's claims that logging's impacts on habitat values will be minimal are not substantiated by any research.

There is no scientific evidence which establishes that predator control can compensate for the impacts of logging on wildlife. Neither the AEE nor the management plans contain any detailed commitments to active predator control programmes.


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Predator control and management is complex and requires an ecosystem approach because of the inter-actions between species - a reduction in stoat numbers may lead to an increase in rat numbers because of the removal of a predator. The likelihood of increased rodent populations s a result of stoat and possum control and the management response do not appear to have been addressed. There are no proposals in the plans or the AEE for integrated pest management to deal with predator inter-relationships.

Possum numbers are likely to increase through the creation of clearings by logging and the growth of light demanding species such as Fuchsia which possums favour. This has not been addressed.

Much of Timberlands' managed forest is adjacent to conservation land which may also adversely (sic) affected by weed and pest invasions into logged forest.

e) Section 6(d) which requires the maintenance and enhancement of public access to and along lakes and rivers to be recognised and provided for.

Timberlands bans or restricts public access to areas it is logging, reducing public access to waterways for significant periods.

f) Section 7 matters have not been adequately provided for. These include:
  1. Section 7(b) the efficient use and development of natural and physical resources.
    The logging scheme is not an efficient use of this forest resource on public land. New Zealand does not need the timber produced and the current domestic demand for beech can be met from beech forests on private land.

    The same volume of timber which can be produced by logging indigenous forests with high conservation forests with high conservation values can be provided from 11,500 ha of plantation pine.

    Beech logging produces large volumes of low grade wood because of internal rot and fungal damage associated with the presence of native pinhole borer beetles. A high proportion of the tree felled is wasted and not used for timber.

    The financial and economic returns to the forest's owners the Crown and the public are very low.
  2. Section 7 (c), which requires particular regard to the maintenance and enhancement of amenity values.

    Timberlands bans or restricts public access to areas it is logging, reducing or denying public access to forests on public land and recreational use for significant periods and over extensive areas. The number of road access points to the forests from state highways and other formed roads are currently limited.

    Knowing that a forest has or is being logged can diminish the recreational experience and the forests' amenity values.

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  1.       Section 7 (d) which requires particular regard to the intrinsic value of ecosystems.

    Intrinsic values include biological and genetic diversity and the form and functioning of ecosystems. These are degraded by logging of the intensity proposed.

  2.       Section 7 (f) which requires particular regard to the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the environment.

    The logging will significantly degrade the (sic) intrinsic, habitat, amenity, recreational and other values of the forests,

  3. Section 7 (g), which requires the Council to have regard to the finite characteristics of natural and physical resources.

    Old growth forest is a finite and irreplaceable resource which will be severely reduced by the scale and extent of the logging proposed.

4.         Need for a precautionary approach
Logging is occurring in forests with high conservation values and in habitats of species threatened with extinction. It is likely to cause potentially severe adverse effects, including cumulative effects. Logging at the intensity proposed and on the scale proposed has not been previously undertaken in New Zealand. No research is available to indicate the impacts of such logging over the proposed 35 year consent term. The precise scale, severity and extent of adverse effects are unknown.. A precautionary approach is appropriate.

5.         International obligations
Beech management as proposed is contrary to and does not implement New Zealand's international obligations under international treaties such as the Convention on Biological Diversity or the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

6.         Planning Instruments
The application is contrary to and will not implement the West Coast Regional Policy Statement in particular the objectives and policies in chapter 9 Habitats and landscapes, chapter 13 air quality.(sic)

Granting consent to the application is contrary to and will not implement the objectives and policies of the Buller District Plan in particular Part 4.8 and 4.9 and the Tasman Resource Management Plan.

7.         Other matters
The decision on the consent is to be made in accordance with section 104 RMA which is itself "subject to Part II". The application has ignored this in its assessment of effects and considered only those matters to which Council has restricted its discretion inthe (sic) Buller Plan.


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The applicant's interpretation of the rules in both the Buller and Tasman District Plans in terms of the area cleared or affected by logging in misconceived and seeks to make a nonsense of the rules.

8.         Breach of the West Coast Accord
The application breaches the undertakings made at the time of the West Coast Accord. The Final Report of the Forests Working Party provided that any beech scheme would be small scale, "environmentally acceptable" and provide timber for domestic use. The scheme is large scale, is environmentally unacceptable because it involves logging forest with high ecological values which provides habitat for species threatened with extinction, and the company proposes to export sawlogs to Australia and elsewhere rather than provide small volumes for domestic use.

Decision sought from the Council

Forest and Bird requests that the Tasman and Buller Districts Councils decline the applications.

Hearing

Forest and Bird wishes to be heard in support of this submission.

(Signed) E M Sage

Eugenie Sage
Regional field officer for
Kevin Smith
Conservation Director

15 November 1999

Address for service
Royal Forest and bird Protection Society of NZ Inc.
PO Box 631
Wellington
Attn: Helen Fraser
Ph (04) 385 7374
Fax (04) 385 7373
Email office@wn.forest-bird.org.nz