IN THE MATTER of the Resource Management Act 1991


AND


IN THE MATTER


of the hearing of applications by Timberlands West Coast Limited


to Buller and Tasman District Councils for land use consents for sustainable beech forest management (including harvesting and associated activities)


EVIDENCE OF BRUCE NEIL WATSON
ON BEHALF OF THE APPLICANT
(Relating to Recreation and Tourism Values)




My name is Bruce Neil Watson. I am an environmental and tourism consultant of Hokitika. I have a B. For. Sc from Canterbury University and since 1974 have been closely associated with recreation and tourism studies and management in the areas covered by this resource consent application. From 1974 to 1978 I was based in Reefton working on recreation and historic aspects of the NZ Forest Service’s beech project. From 1978 to 1995 I was employed either by the NZ Forest Service or Department of Conservation with responsibilities including recreation and tourism planning and management in the area of the consent application. From 1986 to 1995 I was the Department of Conservation’s Regional Conservator for the West Coast and, among other duties took part in the land allocation work that defined the precise boundaries that divided the proposed beech management areas from conservation land.

In 1996-1997 at the request of Timberlands West Coast Ltd I prepared a draft Recreation and Tourism Management Plan for the proposed beech management areas. This evidence is based on that plan.

The Tourism and Recreation Management Plan takes into account the consultations undertaken and recommendations made by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s review of earlier (1995) prescriptions for beech forest management. It also takes account of further investigations and consultation with affected or interested parties specifically undertaken for the plan. The principal change from the recommendations of the Review Report is to have one recreation and tourism plan for all the beech management area rather than a separate plan for each working circle. This was to avoid repetition and enable a better understanding of the proposals for each area in the context of the whole. It was anticipated though that when detailed operational plans are prepared for each working circle further specific planning would take place to safeguard or enhance recreation and tourism values in each forest block.

The plan describes the areas (working circles) proposed for beech management and assesses past and present recreational and tourism uses of each. The role of recreation and tourism resources provided on the Conservation Estate in the region and the relationship of conservation areas adjacent to the working circles are taken into account. Potential future recreation and tourism use for each forest block in its “undisturbed” state is appraised. The possible effect of the new beech management proposals on existing and potential uses and use levels is assessed where applicable. Harvesting and silviculture management techniques which will avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects on recreation and tourism are described. General company policies and practices for recreation and tourism are described, where necessary differentiating between the different forest types (beech, rimu and exotic) managed by the company. The way in which Timberlands will actively manage recreation and tourism values in each beech management block in the future is described.

The beech forest prescriptions adopted by Timberlands West Coast Ltd set aside from logging areas within each forest for wide ranging reasons all of which usually contribute to protecting and enhancing recreation and tourism values. Such areas are set aside for:

riparian strips (stream - side management zones).For streams and rivers wider than 3 metres marginal strips of 20 metres each side will be reserved from logging.
steepland protection
fauna protection
flora or plant community protection
historic site or area protection
landscape or geological feature protection
wahi tapu protection
reservation of areas of recreational and tourism interest where undisturbed natural or historic values are paramount (recreation and tourism will also benefit from reservation for other purposes)
reservation of forestry or scientific trial areas (for example paired catchments which are reserved from harvesting to provide benchmarks)
buffer zone protection along boundaries with neighbours, particularly with land managed by the Department of Conservation

An early conclusion of the study was that the prime recreation and tourism areas in the area were allocated to DoC under the West Coast Forest Accord. In particular the conservation estate includes most of those areas where the quality of recreation and tourism depends on an undisturbed or virgin forest environment. In general the main recreation and tourism values of beech forests in Timberlands’ areas are for local uses such as hunting and picnicking, as access to areas of conservation estate, and as a general indigenous backdrop to the region. Logging roads and tracks give access for activities such as mountain biking, 4-wheel driving and running. These modified areas complement those less disturbed areas managed by DoC and provide a different spectrum of opportunities. However there are some areas where virgin forest values contribute greatly to present and potential recreation and tourism value. In the Buller District these are the limestone cave and karst areas of western Charleston Forest, the montane Waitahu valley near Reefton and parts of Orikaka Forest.

Outside these three areas the proposed timber management regime will have relatively little adverse effect on recreation and tourism values. In fact some values will be enhanced, particularly for those uses depending on ease of public access as the roading network will be better maintained than at present. The study recommended Company policies and practices for the protection of forest values and for the management of recreation and tourism values to avoid, remedy or mitigate against adverse effects.



Watson, B. N.   Draft Recreation and Tourism Management Plan. Timberlands West Coast Limited.    

Beech Management Prescriptions, 1997.

General company policies and practices cover the following topics:

Recreation and Tourism Contact Group
Public Access
Closing Areas to Public Access
Legal Public Access over Roads to Forest Blocks
Maintaining Roading
Traffic Rules on Timberlands’ Roads
Public Safety Issues
Maintenance of Recreational Facilities Other than Roads
Safety Watch Policy
Signs
Recreational Hunting
Wildfowl Shooting
Private Firewood Collection
Private Taking of Plants
Campfires
Off Road Vehicle Use
Mountain Biking
Vehicle Rallying and Racing
Triathlons and Other Athletic Events
Dogs
Information on Recreation and Tourism
Stream - side Management Zones
Tourism
Educational Use of Forests
Co-operation with the Department of Conservation on Recreation and Tourism and Boundaries with the Conservation Estate.
Environmental Compliance Programme
WG993400.164