Environmental sustainability
and just and rational government,
or - Political survival regardless?

   
Sunday 21 May 2000.


Radio Article on National Radio at 8.45 am, from Brian Swale, forestry professional.

Sunday Supplement.


In November 1986, after years of wrangling about plans to harvest timber and modify State native forest, the Crown signed a negotiated peace-treaty.

The contract is with environmental organisations, West Coast local government, industry, and labour.

This West Coast Accord includes agreement that most forests go to the Department of Conservation, and the remaining ten percent mostly to the Forestry Corporation to manage commercially, provided the management allows a continuing supply of indigenous timber in perpetuity.

In other words, sustainably.

This binding agreement gave Timberlands

         a basis for planning,

        agreement on sustainable forest management,

        and

        stopped argument.

In 91 the Resource Management Act was passed.

Replacing laws on use of land, air and water, its purpose is to promote sustainable management of natural and physical resources.

Consents processes under it enable legal and scientific evidence to be presented and evaluated in public.

The West Coast Accord and the RMA, were, until September 99, firmly supported by Labour Party policy and held to be agreements of great and fundamental importance.

Until September '99, did I say?

Well, what changed ?

From the 1970's, environmental organisations including the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, opposed most productive management of state indigenous forest.

With good reason, many people might think.

However, by providing for sustainability in productive forest management, the West Coast Accord and its companion the New Zealand Forest Accord, signed by Forest and Bird, meet their wishes in this matter.

It turns out now that Forest and Bird don't accept the sustainability provision they signed.

They, and companion organisations, have persistently and publicly opposed it since,

supplying us continuously with statements denying that sustainability in forest management works, and that the work of sustainability scientists is valid.

They repeatedly publish expressions such as "trashing our ancient rainforests" and "destroying our heritage", which they know do not apply to sustainable management.

Further, this propaganda penetrated the minds of MP's; so that in September 99, Labour adopted as policy a remit that logging in state indigenous forest would be stopped.

The reason for this was apparently to persuade wavering "green" voters in urban Auckland and Coromandel to vote Labour.

The ploy worked, Labour won its minority governance.

Sustainable forest management, is an essential part of the West Coast Accord.

Timberlands scientists over 10 years, patiently developed techniques whereby beech trees can be sustainably harvested at just half the rate of their natural death. Logs carefully lifted out by helicopter would return 32 million dollars a year to the 'Coast, and 50 million, or more, to New Zealand, for ever.

The special furniture timber would replace imports.

Even better, these developments ensure that wildlife benefit to an extent never before achieved.

Remarkable sustainable management in perpetuity and our scientists set a shining example for the world.

Log supply contracts were signed, and hearings under the Resource Management Act began.

The presentation of Timberlands evidence had just begun, when Labour's shareholding ministers commanded Timberlands Directors to alter the corporate goals to remove beech forestry.

Labour dared not have the scientific evidence made public. It would expose the nonsense of their remit.

The hearing stopped mid-sentence.

Labour had paid back its urban green voters.

To me, two wrongs don't make a right.

In adopting the "no logging" remit, Labour set itself up for conflict, because the remit flies in the face of the RMA and the Accord which Labour supposedly held so dear.

That remit should never have been passed.

The presentation and debate of science, applying the knowledge economy to environmental sustainability, were denied to us all.

This is not just and rational government for New Zealand.

It is vital that the Accord is maintained as a legal document for the future.

Labour and environmentalists must meet and think through what environmental sustainability really means for all of us.

Clearly, they don't understand.

Further, Parliament must grant the Coasts' Petition for a Select Committee Enquiry into sustainable management of indigenous forests as a start to this.


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