West Coast Indigenous Forests - The Myth of Sustainable Logging
By Eugenie Sage, 2/6/2000 Recorded and transcribed by Brian Swale; table supplied by Dr Whyte.
Note: to make this whole document easier to read, I have inserted headings
that Eugenie did not make explicit in her talk.
They are there to break up the expanse of text into more digestible chunks.
I'm Nora Devoe, welcome to this special session on the indigenous forestry.
For those of you who missed my introduction at the first of these three sessions on Monday, I'm Nora Devoe, I'm the Senior lecturer in indigenous forestry, and I will be looking after the formalities in this session.
The final lecture in this series will be next Friday.
The first speaker in this series was Dr David Norton, who spoke on "Sustainable management and biodiversity - why they can be compatible". He used the podocarp forests of South Westland, as his case study.
Our speaker today will focus on beech forest, particularly the Timberlands beech management proposals that have just recently been halted by government.
Today's speaker is Miss Eugenie Sage, she is the Regional Field Officer for the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, which has been described as New Zealand's oldest and largest grass-roots conservation organisation.
Eugenie has held the Regional Field Officer position since 1993. This is one of only two full-time paid positions with Forest and Bird on the South Island. In this capacity, her environmental work has covered a wide range of issues. She has been active on the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary for Hector's dolphins, conservation issues in the High Country, advocating for biodiversity, conservation and sustainable management under the Resource Management Act, and protection of West Coast forests.
She has dedicated considerable attention to the West Coast issues over a very long period of time.
Eugenie holds a law degree, an arts degree - in history, and a post-graduate diploma in journalism. She worked for the New Zealand Forest Service on the West Coast in the 1980's, she has also served in Parliament as a researcher and Press secretary, and she has worked for the Canterbury Regional Council.
Eugenie will speak for no more than 45 minutes, to be followed by questions and comment.
Her title is
"West Coast indigenous Forest - The Myth of Sustainable Logging."
Thank you Nora, for the introduction, and thank you Forestry School for the invitation to speak today.
It's been quite an interesting campaign; I've been involved with it for about 5 years really, since we first learned that Timberlands was proposing the beech scheme. Forest and Bird and conservationists have been trying to protect West Coast forests for about 25 - 30 years, so I've only done a bit recently; I've only done a small part in a much longer campaign.
What I'd like to do today is to look at the biodiversity context in the whole debate about West Coast forests, look at the conservation values of those forests managed by Timberlands, look at some of the impacts of logging, the problems of the management model, look at some of the impacts on wildlife, look at some of the changes in forest structure and functioning as a result of logging, and look at some of the problems of adaptive management from my Forest and Bird perspective, and just look at some of the social and political factors which I think are relevant in the debate about West Coast forests.
We'll start just by looking at the biodiversity index, and I think people recognise that we have a unique assemblage of species in New Zealand, largely as a result of our geological history, the 80 - odd million years isolation from the giant continent Gondwana, and that means that a whole lot of species have evolved here that are unique, found nowhere else in the world.
And probably because of that and the impact of human activity, and the cargo of animals that we have brought with us and on us, we now have a thousand species.
Some of the recent work that has been done has shown that we have a lot more species that are threatened with extinction than previously thought. Some 1,000 species of our known plants and animals and fungi, and that is nearly double the previous estimate. Of course it does not include those species which are as yet undescribed.
State of the Environment Report.
There has been a quite comprehensive State of the Environment Report, and for those who have not read it, I recommend it. It is from the Ministry of the Environment, 1997. It brings together a lot of the knowledge about biodiversity in New Zealand.
A lot of the work in that shows that nearly 2/3rds of the New Zealand landscape is now ecologically hostile to many native species. And a much higher proportion of our land area in New Zealand, some 52% of the total land area and some 90% of lowland area is hostile to many native species.
We have this clean green myth, but that largely relates, I think, to the amount of pastureland in New Zealand, and it is because of our pastoral farming history, that we have got this very high proportion of disturbed habitat, much higher than our actual population would normally suggest. And because of that, it is a lot higher than the world average. Forest and Bird protection is battling for those areas of largely undisturbed of the bird habitat are much more important because of the extensive loss and degradation of the existing indigenous habitat.
Forest cover in New Zealand.
If you look at the history of forest cover in New Zealand, in about 650 - 750 years, 30 generations, humans have managed to reduce indigenous forest cover from around 85 per cent of our land area to around 23 per cent.
(Looking at a projected image of maps of New Zealand at three dates).
That just shows the extent of tall forest - natural forest and tall shrubland cover before Polynesian settlement, before European settlement, and today's forest cover. You can see how extensively it has been reduced and in fact that on the West Coast there are still quite large areas of continuous forest habitat, there is in Westland, compared with other areas of New Zealand particularly in the North Island.
And what is also important is that about only 15 per cent, or less than 15 per cent of our lowland habitat remains. And while we've got, and consider, that there is at least 30 per cent of our land area protected in parks and reserves, the whole history of habitat protection in New Zealand has largely been that it has been the mountain areas, the upland areas; and lowland areas and coastal areas are very under-represented in our protected areas network. So on the 'Coast even, there's various figures, but a lot of those lowland habitats aren't protected and they are currently managed by Timberlands, which is why we have focussed on the value of Timberlands forests because they are largely lowland forests, under 650 metres above sea level.
Timberlands' beech management proposals. Overview.
So we've got quite extensive areas of forest on the West Coast; 98,000 hectares with part of the beech scheme - the proposed beech scheme; and if anyone wants to look at the map there's one down at the front here that you can look at, just highlighting the areas of Timberlands forests.
Not all of that was proposed for logging as part of the Resource Consent Application. That largely focussed on the Inangahua, Maruia, and upper Grey Valley area. Part of the Granville forest and the lower Grey Valley weren't part of the Resource Consent Application last year.
(Looking at a aerial transparency projected on the screen) And this is the east bank of the Maruia, looking south. And those are the areas where they are lowland beech forest, very high wildlife habitat values, some of the highest numbers of South Island robin that have been found in any wildlife surveys in New Zealand. Very large numbers of big, old, trees; and that of course perhaps accounts for some of the high wildlife concentrations there, very high density of South Island kaka, very high density of parakeet.
And of course the area, because it is one of the most highly valuable ecological areas of temperate wildlife habitat values, it is also the area where Timberlands began its trial logging, which we thought was inappropriate. If you were going to begin trials you would normally do them, if you were really concerned about sustainable management, in an area that had a lot less habitat value.
Threatened or uncommon plants and animals in the TWC aplication area.
And the Timberlands application area contains - for the Resource Consent - at least 19 threatened or uncommon vascular plants; and unlike some of the wildlife work, there has been very little work done, looking at the extent of the threat - from the scientists view, in the Timberlands forests. And it also contains significant populations of at least 24 bird species including eight species that are threatened with extinction. Some of those are the South Island kaka, the New Zealand falcon, the Blue duck, weka; and native fish species like the kokopu. And it is a given that these species are totally dependent on forest for breeding and shelter. From Forest and Bird's perspective, any areas where these species occur should be set aside for their recovery.
And it's not known that - why, as I mentioned before, some of the - we've got these very high densities of species like the New Zealand falcon. Because they've generally disappeared from most of the forest on the South Island east coast, for example, and the North Island subspecies has vanished from much of the North Island. But when we don't know why we've got so high a concentration of these species here, it seems to us rather arrogant to actually start logging that habitat when we haven't yet answered the mystery of why the numbers are so high.
So it is obviously a fact that it is some of the most extensive areas of continuous forest is probably a quite a factor in their high numbers.
And I think the West Coast, because it is part of the conscience of New Zealand, that the West Coast is one of the few mainland areas of New Zealand where one can see some of our rarer forest inhabitants, like the great spotted kiwi, like kaka, like parakeet, in some of the former lowland forest that is relatively accessible, because it is lowland forest. And it is there, as I said before, that we have got one of the largest continuous expanses of indigenous forest left in New Zealand.
The forest management system proposed by Timberlands.
So in terms of the management system that's being proposed by Timberlands, it was largely an experimental system, and it wouldn't sustain the whole range of values associated with indigenous forest. It may sustain certainly an overall forest cover, and timber yield, but not the life-supporting capacity, and not the same distribution and abundance of a lot of the species that are there today.
And the whole grouped-tree selection system that Timberlands has been proposing hasn't been widely used before in New Zealand, there's not a strong research position - because, in our view it is a continuation really of the old experimentation in beech logging and in native forest management we've seen previously with the Forest Service. And David Norton outlined last week some of the work that was done with group felling and selection logging. And we think that this system with the group tree selection, where you are taking between one and ten beech trees in groups throughout the forest is a continuation of this experimentation.
Because in 1995 when Timberlands first proposed beech management, it was talking about 21 hectare coupes or clearcuts, then in 1996 these coupe sizes were reduced to between 0.5 and 5 to 6 hectares, and then again later the clearcut size came down again.
So it seems to me that there have been quite a lot of somersaults in terms of what is proposed, and there's no long research position in just what the effects of what these small-scale clearcuts scattered throughout the forest will be. And because we don't have the luxury of having a piece of forest cover left to experiment with, that's been a basis for our view that these areas, because of the threatened species, because they're part of a large continuous patch of forest, are not appropriate for further experiment in indigenous forest logging.
Forest growth models; stand growth simulation - the TWC model.
And because a lot of that research work has (never? - audio unclear) been done Timberlands is relying on population modelling to replace it for determining what is an appropriate extraction rate, and what is an appropriate logging regime.
And the model that is being used is based on one that has been developed for tropical forests, and some of the assumptions in it; we've got no confidence that they can actually apply to New Zealand beech forest. Again, this has been a method of management that has only been developed in the last 5 to 10 years. There hasn't been the time for small-scale research trials over anything like a native species in a rotation cycle to expand to the forest.
And the model is equilibrium-based, it assumes that mortality is the same as growth, and it is all started from a range of beech forest plots to actually substantiate this.
And because some of the extraction rates in the model are based on the average growth rate of the beech for broad tree diameter classes, rather than site-specific growth models, there may be quite a difference in growth rate in different size classes across the forest. And Timberlands acknowledges this, but a lot of that site-specific data hasn't been adequately researched and this could mean that the requirements for extraction rates from the model, across the forest, then you could be undercutting in some areas and overcutting in others. And then there is a lack of research to actually question whether these things - to establish that the assumptions in the model can be applied to Timberlands forests.
Forest growth models - the Landcare Research models written by Dr Murray Efford.
Forest and Bird commissioned Landcare Research to do an analysis of the model, and Dr Murray Efford did that, then went on to do a lot more analysis, on government account, on Landcare's account, and the results of that are available on Landcare's web-site.
And Landcare's analysis showed that there would be a substantially reduced number of larger older trees over 200 years, and a major change in the older established forest.
Landcare showed that Timberlands had over-estimated the number of beech trees they would be logging, and the number of larger older trees which would remain after logging. And, initially, there was, I think, an over-estimate of about 22 per cent of the number of - um - well it is an over-estimate of about 10 - 30 per cent of the population growth that would occur for each 15 year cutting cycle. And if you compound this over 200 years you get a substantial reduction in the number of bigger, older trees that would remain.
And one of the mistakes in the model had to do with the sapling recruitment and the time taken for trees to grow through each of the size classes, to one from another. And there were over-estimates in there and so over-estimates in the amount of timber and trees that were available for logging and so on; that it affected the number of trees that remained.
And the Landcare analysis was quite fair, but there was a lot more information needed, on natural forest dynamics and just how the forest would respond to the different extraction regimes.
Sustainable forest management - implications for wildlife.
There were problems with the model, but there was also from past research and experience, major problems with impact on wildlife. And in the past, logging regimes have caused dramatic declines in many bird species especially New Zealand bird species. And there's no research showing that the Timberlands' regime could be any different. And Timberlands itself admits that the effects on birdlife is one of the great unknowns in terms of its management.
And in terms of the threatened species, even any percentage reduction in the distribution and abundance of those species is unacceptable.
We do know that logging reduces the average age and size of trees, and it is the larger older trees in the forest which have highest habitat value, and are disproportionately important to wildlife for foraging, nesting and roosting. And also for climbing and perching plants.
That's just an overhead looking at yellow-crowned parakeet, worked out by Dr Graeme Elliott, and it simply shows; the cross-hatched areas are the nesting trees, and the blank columns are the trees that are available in the forest. And obviously the bigger older trees from 70 to 90 centimetres in diameter, 90 to 110, and 110 centimetres plus in diameter are the ones that are used disproportionately by yellow-crowned parakeet. Both for picking food and for nesting. So these bigger older trees, because they've got more dead branches falling off, there are obviously more cavities forming holes that they are very important as wildlife trees in the forest. And for something like yellow-crowned parakeet, they're a Category 3 threatened species, they were once common throughout the forest of New Zealand, but today they are found mostly in low numbers in quite large forest blocks. And they rarely survive in small isolated forest blocks. Their numbers are being greatly reduced by predators, they are not able to live outside native forest, and they need large holes. And like species like mohoua (or yellowhead), they can't nest in holes below a certain minimum size, and those holes are only able to form in the large trees.
And in terms of the limits that Timberlands were proposing; it recognised the importance of these bigger older trees, but the tree stem harvesting limits, in our view, were too high to protect a significant proportion of the wildlife trees in the short term. In red beech forest for example, Timberlands was only proposing to leave those trees above 110 centimetres in diameter. The earlier overhead was showing, for example, that the yellow-crowned parakeet was using the trees above 70 centimetres diameter - they make up a very high proportion of the trees that they use. So if you are felling over the 110 centimetre in diameter, there are going to be a lot of trees probably in that 70 to 110 centimetre class that are being felled, and reducing the trees that will be available for a hole-nesting species like yellow-crowned parakeet.
And the people like Dr Colin O'Donnell and Peter Dilks have modelled the impact that different rates of timber extraction would have on forest birds, and they have based their studies on work they have done on foraging behaviour of species like parakeet, and they have shown that at even small extraction rates of 20 per cent of those trees, they have been associated with significant decline in yellow-crowned parakeet population.
So, ... in the prescriptions there was no upper limit set for harvesting of rimu and that's because Timberlands said that that was because they didn't provide the same habitat value as beech, but a lot of the research shows that those trees do have a high value for habitat for foraging for a number of bird species. Particularly for kaka and parakeet.
Beech management proposals - implication of "Improvement felling" in "recovery forest".
One of the other issues was the whole proposal for improvement felling which was a regime to thin a forest of defective stems for timber purposes. And that was likely to gradually reduce the whole suitability of the forest for hole-using, and hole-using species. Timberlands had it in their Resource Consent application that they had done away with this concept of improvement felling which was going to involve the felling of several thousand trees each year. So - in the Resource Consent they said they weren't going to do it, but in all the management prescriptions there was provision for improvement felling. So it was quite uncertain as to what the Company was proposing here.
And in terms of the whole impact on the number of wildlife species, there has been population modelling done to work out the extraction rates of trees, but there has been no similar population modelling done to look at the impact of the logging regime on the wildlife. And so it was going into a not - knowing from our past experience that there would be impacts but being totally unclear about the extent of those impacts.
And with the loss of the bigger older trees too, there might have been quite a loss of special food sources, that may have reduced the abundance of birds in the surrounding upland forests, and because the relationships between wildlife and plants aren't well understood, any decline in the abundance and distribution of seed trees through habitat loss and dispersal could also affect pollination, could affect dispersal, and the abundance of plant species like mistletoe. Because you've got species like pigeons and tuis and bellbird and they are very important dispersers of seed of many native forest plants. Pigeons are the only species that disperse the very large fruits of a number of species; tui and bellbird are important pollinators of our plant species, so if they are reduced in numbers, then it could result in some native forest plants declining in abundance as well and becoming locally rare or extinct. And the rarity of mistletoes in some areas may be a reflection of the losses of dispersers such as kaka and mohoua (or yellowhead).
Beech management proposals - New roading.
Other problems from the impact of logging is the logging regime that was proposed, in the Maruia forest, 11,000 hectares, in two blocks of that forest, there was new roading at least 29 kilometres proposed and about 22 skid-sites. And for species like the New Zealand robin which doesn't move across bare ground. The whole roading of the forest, fragmenting the forest, possibly causing reduction in the size of populations in particular areas, and maybe causing bad breeding conditions and causing the populations to reduce in size.
Beech management proposals - Impact on native fish.
Another major deficiency in the whole wildlife examination of the protected logging report was species like native fish. A lot of the West Coast forests are a stronghold for native fish species, because we haven't had the same loss of riparian qualities as we do in other areas in New Zealand. There was very - there were no actual surveys done to establish the abundance and distribution of native fish species within the area targetted for logging, there was only a desk-top survey done. And the riparian buffers were only going to be provided on the bigger streams not the smaller ones which are more important for our native fish species.
Beech management proposals - New reserves
Reserves. Timberlands did propose limited reserves. About 8 areas across 18 forests. But most of these reserves were only 100 to 200 hectares in size, and because of their small size we didn't see them as being adequate to protect viable populations of any species, particularly when you have got species like kaka and parakeet which require a range of several hundred hectares. So reserve areas covered a very low percentage - about 10 per cent I think - of the range of some species like kaka and parakeet, and so they weren't going to protect viable populations. And a lot of those concerns were echoed by the Department of Conservation in their evidence.
Beech management proposals - Predator control
So Timberlands did recognise that there would be some impact on wildlife, and the solution seemed to be predator control. But, here again, this is a big unknown, because there has been no work that has done which shows that predator control on its own, will compensate the impacts of logging. We recognise that predation is a major factor in the decline of a number of our species, but the commitments to predator control in the management plan were extremely vague. There was absolutely no details of any of the programmes, to show how much money would be committed, what level of activity there would be, what species would be targetted, how the work would be done, And so; Dr Henrik Moller was the principal wildlife pathologist for Timberlands, and his evidence on the Resource Consent Application - he said basically that it would be difficult to make any commitment to specific plans before Timberlands could work out how much revenue it was going to earn from the beech scheme, and the commitment was always to a percentage of the revenue from the beech logging, somewhere of the order of 5 to 10 per cent. But there was no actual detail on where the work was going to be done, how it was going to be done, and - we know there was no deer control proposed, there was possum control limited to "hot spots", and even Dr Moller admitted that it would take at least 10 years before all the research was done so that they could actually implement predator control programmes. So it is relying a lot on promise and hope; and Timberlands record in a lot of other areas we weren't prepared to accept that, particularly as the agency's current spending on pest control is extremely low. And DOC spends about - over $1.1 million, predator control this year; Timberlands is spending less than $30,000 on possum control and a maximum of about $80 to 100,000 on predator control some of that on some other research work. So, Timberlands has had the opportunity to spend quite considerably on predator control; where it is doing it is limited to South Okarito, North Okarito and Saltwater forests that you heard about last week. It is not being done over large areas of the other forests Timberlands manages, and Timberlands spent about $80 - 100,000 on predator control in 1998, and was only reported as spending 30,000 dollars on possum control in that same year.
There are also difficulties because the plans didn't look at the fact that you require, really, an ecosystem approach to do pest control effectively; there was no real examination of what would happen if reducing stoats then resulted in an increase in rat numbers, and no integrated approach to deal with that.
Beech management proposals - Spread of weeds and other pests.
And no examination of the potential effects of logging. If you are going to create a number of these clearings through the forest, it is quite likely that you will get an increase in light demanding species like fuchsia and wineberry; possums favour those species, so then possum numbers will increase. Again, another big uncertainty.
Problem with roading again; roads are a corridor for weed and pest spread, and intrusion by pests. Research in the Eglinton valley in Fiordland showed quite a number of stoats and rats along the beech forest edge rather than the forest interior, and male stoats made greater use of roads than other habitat in some years. And because those edge areas generally favour migration - you generally have greater numbers of introduced birds and rodents, there's increased food ready for predators, and you may have a predator population sustained along the road edge. So, because of the - yes - all of the above; lack of real commitment, Timberlands record to date in pest control, the lack of research that's showing it didn't compensate for logging impact; we didn't see indigenous species protection had been adequate.
Beech management proposals - harvesting pre-empting natural mortality.
I'll just run briefly through some of the other changes in the whole forest (concept?) and functioning. One of the major difficulties we had with the proposal was this idea that you were going to pre-empt natural mortality. Timberlands was claiming that it was going to do these small clearcuts, and that was that is was a similar pattern to natural small windthrow gaps. There was no information in the plans on how much natural mortality was being subsumed into these logging regimes, and it is also very difficult to tell in which year and where natural windthrow events would occur. So that is why we think the actual logging regime is in addition to natural mortality because of the difficulty in predicting where you are going to get windthrow, and where you are going to get - no, - when - you are going to get individual trees dying. Because, in beech trees it is quite difficult to tell whether a tree is going to die; they are often - red beech trees, for example, look very healthy from the outside, but when they are felled quite a proportion of the logwood will be hollow, and of course they will be of no value for logging.
And even if you could pre-empt mortality, this would be contradicting Timberlands claim that they will be leaving the bigger older standing dead trees for wildlife. Some of those standing dead trees will only last for several decades, presumably. Then, once they are gone, if you are going to pre-empt the trees that would die and become standing dead trees, you will have a reduction in the number of standing dead trees that are available for wildlife. So, either way you look at it, there is only problems with this whole concept of pre-empting mortality.
David Norton last week covered the windthow patterns - development patterns; quite subtle effects often, it would be quite difficult to establish what the consequences of those changes are, changes to regeneration patterns, with the loss of stumps and reduction in the number of natural windthrows that manage to up-end with, and the seeding site with effects on seedling establishment; changes to nutrient cycling regimes, possible reduction in the nutrient pool from the removal of logs and woody debris, and that would provide a diminishing pool of carbon and nitrogen.
And so in terms of problems we could see, all of this logging was in addition to the level of disturbance in the forest by an unknown factor rather than being part of that natural disturbance regime it was on top of that. And the whole scale and extent of impacts from that was unknown.
The Forest and Bird Response.
So the solution, in our view, was this.
Because the scale and extent of impacts were unknown, is that a precautionary approach is appropriate, and stop a threat of serious or irreversible damage in terms of the human time scale of generations or centuries, and you are dealing with potential threats - potential attacks on threatened species. And where we don't have enough knowledge about what the extent of what those threats could be, then the main principle of the Resource Management Act is that that shouldn't be used as an excuse to delay putting into action - preventative action.
Beech management proposals - Adaptive management with growth forecasting.
So, Timberlands' answer to the problem of impacts not being well understood, was this whole concept of 'adaptive management'.
And again, I think there are difficulties with this, because some of the effects that will occur on ecosystem functioning, like changes in nutrient cycling, may not be very obvious; they may be quite subtle, and they may be quite difficult to determine from monitoring. Some of the impacts, for example on wildlife, such as on the breeding success and abundance of bird species, may not be obvious for a number of years, and by then it may be too late to .. (small end of sentence lost)
The different species dynamics means that it is not really possible to have one or two species being used as an indicator of the viability of other species, and although (FRI ??) had indicated that there would be some work done in looking at project indicator species, none of this work had been done before the Resource Consent Application was submitted. And it is clear that there would still be quite a lot of research required to identify what Timberlands was proposing as indicator species.
Foerst and Bird mistrust of TWC and response to commercial needs.
And one of the other major issues is that commercial imperatives will often impede changes in logging practice, if they are picked up through monitoring, and I think a key example of this is the continued Buller overcut. Where you've got a company that can, in the last 12 months, cause huge damage to Orikaka forest where there's an area for great spotted kiwi, one of the areas where you've got high numbers of kaka and parakeet, that have been recorded, and the company has gone on logging there because rimu logging is highly profitable and they need it for its cash flow. Timberlands managers recognise that the overcut is not sustainable, yet it hasn't been stopped. So if the company can't do that when the effects are known, when they recognise it is damaging, then we have no confidence that depending on that management regime will result in some of those changes being implemented if they affected the commercial return from logging.
And then too, there is that whole culture of secrecy that there has been with Timberlands. Difficulties that conservation organisations have had in getting information from the company means that we have lost a high level of confidence in the accountability and transfer of the ?knowledge?(audio level faded).
The need for beech timber, and the economic and social returns.
And just lastly, some of the political factors in terms of the whole sustainability issue, we don't believe there's any economic, social or other needs for the beech scheme or for continued rimu logging. Virtually all of our demands for timber in New Zealand can be met from our plantation forests. There's continued heavy clearfelling of beech forest in Southland that can provide any timber that people want in terms of beech for furniture or other use. Timberlands is not providing a major return to the Crown its owners, its tax returns are in the thousands of dollars rather than hundreds; its only provided a dividend once in its ten-year life, and it provides a very minimal royalty of 100,000 to 150,000 dollars annually. So it's not; in terms of financially, it's not a major contributor to the Consolidated Account and it would seem to be largely reliant upon export markets. There's a small domestic demand, and the management plan emphasised the production of sawlogs for export. So again, that whole concept of there being jobs on the 'Coast from protesting - ahem - from processing ! - is not one that on balance can be clearly maintained. But because Timberlands has shown with the pine - it has sent the majority of the pine off the 'Coast for processing in Canterbury and Nelson, again we question its commitment to creating local jobs there.
The Maruia Declaration lives?
And lastly, just the very strong and long-standing covenant for protection of indigenous forest in New Zealand, going right back to the Maruia Declaration and the more-than 10,000 people who made petitions against the beech logging proposals, affording the forest protection. So there is a very strong public and political mandate for the protection of forest and government moves have taken the position to stop the beech scheme.
And I think that in part related to the huge effort Timberlands has put in to public relations, its interference with democratic process, it repeatedly tried to squash any action in opposition to logging, to intimidate people, to paint out slogans around Wellington waterfront, to write threatening letters to people, to threaten people with lawsuits, with defamation; I think there has been a very real backlash against that, and that if the company had adopted a more responsible and less aggressive approach there, there may have been a little more trust in the earlier stages.
I am sure you are all waiting to ask questions, so, thank you very much.
Dr Devoe; Ok questions; we'll have students first.
Student: Your second point was that 1,000 taxa are threatened with extinction. I'm wondering where you got that figure from, because I believe that it's much less than that. For example, the New Zealand threatened plants committee recognises only 108 vascular plants as threatened, of which only 24 are listed as critically endangered - i.e. threatened with extinction.
Landcare research only list 3 fungi as threatened.
Collectively the most recent peer reviewed estimate of threatened plants and animals was done by Towns and Williams who listed approximately 600 taxa as at risk.
But note, risk does not necessarily mean likely to become extinct.
Furthermore of the 19 threatened and uncommon plants reported from West Coast beech forests:
- how many are endemic to that region how many have their national strongholds in those forests?
- and lastly what actual numbers of this figure (19) are threatened versus uncommon, because uncommon taxa are not necesaarily threatened taxa?
Eugenie Sage: I think that was more a statement than a question! That information came from the 'State of the Environment Report', which has quite a large chapter on the state of biodiversity in New Zealand. I don't know how many are 'uncommon' versus how many are 'threatened', and I don't know how many of those species West Coast forest has a ?local? stronghold for. I can find that out for you. But I think that we need here to go back to that overhead I showed you about the huge extent of loss that we have in New Zealand, about the very high number of species which we have and the amount ? of diversity?. That, therefore, there is not a lot of safety margin; and, you can argue that, yes, we can push to the limit of it and see what happens, but, as I'm hopefully saying, because of the - because we have done so much damage to our indigenous heritage here we have to ..(voice tails off). But the information comes out of the 'State of the Environment ' Report; in that section on biodiversity ... (sentence trails off)
Student: I'm just wondering if you can shed any light on the Government's decision to offer the 'Coast over a hundred million dollars and the commercial and social needs and the logging they were planning?
Eugenie Sage: I think it was a good thing, because we have campaigned from the start that there should be some regional development package for the 'Coast, because they missed out in many ways when the local government was restructured and some local authorities got big shares in port companies and things; that didn't happen on the 'Coast. There's always been a lulled development phase here. And I think the mayors have negotiated very hard. Back in - seven years ago with National were - in a court case - they took a case to court, they admitted at the time they would rather have a hundred million than the beech scheme. Of course the National government paid them nothing. And, I think that it is one of the regions that has been particularly hard hit by restructuring; in the government sector; the change in the Forest Service, quite a large Lands and Survey, loss of employment opportunities there. I think though, that forestry has been overtaken by tourism, there's a very strong mining sector (tails off here) so there's a strong local economy there, and I think .. in relation to the population .. that there's been $120 million as compensation for the logging event - and we haven't seen the end of the rimu logging yet, and there's not one single hectare of forest that's actually been protected yet, so I think that the coast has definitely got the money in the bag. There's still quite a way to go before the protection proposals can actually give security.
Dr Devoe; OK, any more questions?
Questioner: In your opinion, is sustainable forest management that includes logging, possible in any other of New Zealands' forests, or anywhere in the world?
Eugenie Sage: I think - it's obviously possible on the thousands - or many hectares of private forest, and, I guess, from Forest and Bird's perspective, if we try to use the Resource Management Act to - encourage the protection of those forests, but recognise that landowners have the ability to fill in land.. without resource consents .. (voice tails off here), and that is why we focussed on the public land first, and - for our protection; and it was mentioned last week about Timberlands scheme being stopped, therefore there's no opportunity to do the research that might assist management overseas, and elsewhere in New Zealand; I think - I'm not sure that you can apply any research in beech forest in New Zealand to overseas systems, if you get to do the research here, .. it would be easier to do the research overseas; and that there is the potential on some of the regimes that Timberlands has proposed to be implemented on a - on private land. It is not our opinion that that is desirable, we'd like to see New Zealand's private forest protected ... environment ... on private land.(voice drops away here).
If we were starting again in New Zealand, if we were back in sort of ?old empire? or even in the 1840's, when you had a lot more of that forest cover left, then it probably would have been sensible then to experiment and get data at that time; but now, its just gone on so long that the other ?plants have been lost? - and there's no opportunity to ... all on harvesting (voice drops right away).
It is extremely unfortunate, I think, that the huge investment that FRI in research is focussed on plantation pine. Not on our indigenous species ... (voice drops away).
Student: (Something like) Can you say something about the SILNA beech in Southland that's being clearfelled or something; why is that better than West Coast beech?
Eugenie Sage: No I'm not saying that we support that. Forest and Bird has brought an Environment Court case to control that logging, but we haven't been able to do that, because it's Maori land and its also under the SILNA legislation to benefit Maori - from the Forest Act in the sustainable forest management regime that MAF administers. But for that logging that is being done; it is not being controlled at the moment, there are big inferences about the sustainability and sustainable management really applying to it. And that is satisfying demand at the moment. We don't think it is good, that logging, and we are trying to stop it.
Dr Graham Whyte: I want to ask some questions on behalf of the students, because I am sure they are bemused by this welter of mis-information from her. I don't say that in any mean way, but, something that has been said for many years.
First of all, of course, there was - 6.2 million hectares, I think you said, existing today; that's based on the last Forest Service - Ministry of Forestry - records, in 1987. And in 1920, there was 6 point - well the best estimate was 6 million hectares. So there's been no loss of indigenous forest in that whole period in which we had the Forest Service. Despite logging. OK? And that's been acknowledged in many areas. .
Then, you said that logging causes birdlife loss. And, of course there are so many exceptions to that, and so many other causes, ... that you just can't think that that is a reasonable suggestion. Especially, for example, you mentioned yellow-heads. And in Fiordland, where there's never been any logging, there's never been any logging, you have a yellow-head population that's vanished. So you can't ascribe it to logging. That's the sort of thing..
You also mentioned that 80 thousand was spent on West Coast ... by Timberlands West Coast for predator control, and 1.1 million on the West Coast by DOC. But if you look at it on a per-hectare basis, actually TWC is spending more per hectare because there are at least 1.8 million hectares of indigenous forest on the Conservation (DOC) estate - so-called 'Conservation' estate, on the West Coast and therefore that's less than a dollar, whereas TWC's was more than a dollar. Anyway. ... That's another thing. .
I could go on with these things, but I have a series of questions that I think - (and here Dr Whyte produced a transparency for the overhead projector, and the sheet reads as follows .. ).
DoC is responsible for administering about 9 million hectares of New Zealand resources,
over 5 million ha of which are in indigenous forest.
DoC is not legislatively required to manage its forest resources sustainably..
Question 1 .
(a) Why not?.
(b) Where is the evidence in formal reports based on accurate surveys that DoC's forest ecosystems throughout the 5 million ha are being fully monitored to determine changes in flora, fauna and physical attributes in terms of their future biodiversity, soil and water qualities, scenic, recreational and amenity values and usufruct rights?.
© If neither conducted nor reported, why not?.
(d) Why was the transfer of TWC's indigenous forest resources to DoC the top priority of the Labour /Alliance minority coalition government? [Note: TWC was trying to manage sustainably, DoC is not].
(e) What is the likely ball-park annual cost per hectare of stock-taking, monitoring, auditing and responding through remedial operations of ensuring sustainable outcomes in indigenous forests without harvest revenue?.
Question 2 .
(a) Does not the 1991 RMA legislation need to be modified to accommodate Labour's change in forest policy?.
(b) Should New Zealand remove its signature from the Rio Declaration of Forest Principles, the Montreal Process and other UN initiatives?.
The Montreal Process requires various indicators to be monitored and reported for each of the seven criteria set out below:.
1 Conservation of biodiversity
2 Maintenance of productive capacity of forest ecosystems
3 Maintenance of ecosystem health and vitality
4 Conservation and maintenance of soil and water resources
5 Maintenance of forest contribution to global carbon cycles
6 Maintenance and enhancement of long-term multiple socio-economic benefits to meet the needs of societies
7 Legal, institutional and economic framework for forest conservation and sustainable management
What you might see there is, I think I; OK; I'm sorry about the small one, but it was the length of the question that was ...
Eugenie Sage: Just in terms of your statement, I think; I don't think I have mis-represented the impact of logging on wildlife. There's been quite a lot of research done by Eric Spurr, Colin O'Donnell, Peter Dilks and others which does show that logging does have a major impact on wildlife. There's also predation. We accept that predation has an impact. We're not trying to deny that. And we have campaigned long and hard for increased funding for DOC to do more predator control work. And the fact that Timberlands may spend more per hectare, I think is irrelevant, because
they are only spending it on a very small area, and that therefore ignores what's happening elsewhere.
Now, in respect of your other questions, I think DOC is doing an extraordinary job on the very limited information, the limited funding that it has; it brought the black robin back in recovery, it's doing marvellous work with the kakapo. It would be great if government committed an extra hundred million in the budget this year to conservation funding. There may be some increasing recognition through the biodiversity strategy that we need to substantially increase funding of conservation if we are to reduce the number of threatened species and actually maintain species that currently ...
In terms of the monitoring, I mean there is a lot of research going on - that I haven't really done any estimates of the cost of it ...
Dr Whyte: Yes, I have.
Eugenie Sage: Have you come up with a cost?
Dr Whyte: Yes. It's been published.
Eugenie Sage: I'm not sure why - I mean I haven't done any research into things that monitoring on the ... density over the whole of the conservation estate without a substantial increase in conservation funding.. (voice trails away here). I don't think it was the top priority of the Labour/Alliance government to transfer the forests to DOC. I think the cabinet at the time in did, because .. END OF TAPE.