A. Graham D. Whyte*

P.O. Box 12297, Christchurch 8030, New Zealand.
Tel & Fax: +64 3 332 0435 / e-mail:

A. Lindsay Poole

22 A Waru Street, Wellington 4, New Zealand
Tel: +64 4 479 7837 / e-mail:

Paper presented at the 2001 Commonwealth Forestry Association
Annual Conference ( Fremantle, Australia )


This paper outlines the steep decline in the quality of New Zealand forestry practice since the 1989 Commonwealth Forestry Conference held in Rotorua, New Zealand. Many Commonwealth foresters were dismayed then at the upheavals in land administering departments created politically in 1987 and predicted dire consequences in trying to secure sustainable forestry outcomes in New Zealand without a change in direction. The actual outcomes have proved to be worse than the predictions, both for the plantation resource and the indigenous forest. The indigenous forest has been hardest hit, because the present government is ideologically committed to halting all harvests, sustainable or not, from state indigenous forests. Although New Zealand is signatory to the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, to the 1995 Montreal Process and to various other UNCED initiatives, the present government has decreed that sustainable harvesting of indigenous forest resources is an impossibility and has legislated accordingly. Evidently, the 1991 Resource Management Act and the amended 1949 Forests Act have no standing against a 1987 Conservation Act, the principal objective of which is preservation of forest ecosystems as they now are or were during the first millennium. There are some few special protection programmes on one or two off-shore islands, and even fewer in some small areas of the two main islands, but there is no evidence that locking up and leaving the remaining 5 million or so hectares of state indigenous forest to their own devices can preserve dynamic ecosystems. There is no monitoring of resources other than maps prepared from mainly 1996 satellite imagery, but no accompanying ground field inventories at the national level to calibrate the vegetation imagery nor, of course, the faunal population trends. New Zealand, it is argued here, is failing to comply with several relevant international conventions and is wrongly interpreting domestic legislation. Three major ministries (Agriculture and Forestry, Conservation and Environment) have been allocated conflicting and inconsistent objectives for identical resources, which conflict could be resolved sensibly, if there was a will to do so. But professional resource managers in none of these departments are allowed to disagree privately or publicly with the current misguided political decision-making. The independent views of the two authors of this paper indicate how sustainable outcomes can be achieved in New Zealand and estimate the likely costs of such strategies. Comment and advice from Commonwealth Forestry Conference delegates are sought.


This paper outlines legislative changes and misguided political ideology introduced since 1986 that have adversely affected the nature and health of all types of forest in New Zealand. At the 1989 Thirteenth Commonwealth Forestry Conference held in New Zealand, it was recommended that "governments ensure the existence of an effective, unified, institutional framework for forestry" and that "governments raise the level and effectiveness of investment in forestry to recognise more fully the importance of multiple social, economic and environmental benefits conferred by forests". This account presents evidence to show that New Zealand has not complied with these recommendations, that domestic legislation is now even less effective and more inconsistent than in 1989, and that international conventions to which New Zealand is signatory are being openly flouted.

Ours is not a view that is likely to be confirmed by government department officials, because, since taking office in December 1999, the Labour-led minority government in New Zealand has been quick to suppress views of senior departmental staff that even hint at disagreeing with land-use decisions the politicians have made. Forest industry organisations are equally culpable and do not allow their employees freedom to express professional opinions that differ from the organisation's official views even within the New Zealand Institute of Forestry. Healthy debate was permitted when there was a NZ Forest Service. We two authors would prefer to participate in open debate and deal with technical aspects of forestry, but have little choice but to present information that is mostly of a political nature. We, however, are free to speak our minds and are not constrained by political and organisational censorship.

Two accounts of the current sad state of New Zealand forestry were briefly outlined in the June 2000 issue of the International Forestry Review (Perley, 2000; Whyte, 2000). Poole (1998) reminisced about his lifetime experience, beginning in 1926 as a forest nurseryman, a variety of forestry experience leading to 10 years as Director-General of the Forest Service and subsequently 8 years as chairman of the Soil Conservation and Rivers Control Council. He has continued to be active in decrying the irrational policies which forestry politicians in New Zealand are pursuing.

But relevant events and issues covered in these publications and documented elsewhere in many others, cannot be comprehensively re-stated here in this short article. The approach taken for this paper, therefore, is to highlight major strategic errors we perceive New Zealand politicians of all persuasions have made in the last 15 years or so, then suggest how sound forestry strategies can be restored nation-wide. While we believe that the basic principles of managing forest plantations are the same as for any other form of forest, separation is so far down the track in New Zealand that it is necessary to examine them individually.


New Zealand's land area is around 27 million hectares (270 thousand km2). Today, approximately 52 per cent of the land area is devoted to some form of agriculture, 6 per cent is plantation forest and 24 per cent is indigenous forest. A thousand years ago, 75 per cent of the land area was covered in trees. When the first major influx of European settlers arrived in 1840, over 50 per cent of the land area remained in forest. By 1920, when a State forestry department was first created, at least a further 8 million hectares of forest had been cleared for pastoral agriculture. The remaining forest types were the kauri forests in the north, podocarp and podocarp/hardwood in the warmer, wet, lowland areas throughout the country, and southern beech (Nothofagus spp.) of the south, the mountains and dry lowlands. From 1920 till 1987, at which latter date the Forest Service was dis-established, the net area of indigenous forest slightly increased from 6.0 to 6.4 Mha. The Forest Service administered less than half this area, the Lands Department (national parks, other reserves and areas with potential for farming) about the same and 22 per cent was in one form of private ownership or another.

On 1 April 1987, the fourth Labour government made sweeping changes to the public service in general. It had decided in September 1985 to split forests into "commercial" and "non-commercial" types. Essentially, virtually all state indigenous forests were classed as non-commercial and most plantations were regarded as commercial. Nine State-owned enterprises were created, among them the Department of Conservation (DoC), the Ministry of Forestry (MoF) and the New Zealand Forestry Corporation (NZFC). DoC was charged with preserving natural, non-commercial forests, managing native and introduced fauna and public recreation. DoC administers its resources, including "non-commercial forests" under the 1987 Conservation Act, which has no requirement to manage them sustainably. MoF provided all the support services formerly carried out by the Forest Service, but with no land and no land administration function; MoF was later subsumed within the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), because forestry was deemed to be simply another agricultural crop. But now the Ministers of Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation are three different people from two different political parties. "Commercial" forestry is administered under the 1991 Resource Management Act and the 1949 Forests Act as amended in 1993, both of which have the primary objective of managing resources sustainably. The NZFC was made a company responsible for managing the commercial forestry assets under the 1986 State-owned Enterprises Act, until sold to private buyers and then administered in effect under the Land Transfer Act 1952 pursuant to the Crown Forest Assets Act 1989.


DoC has over 9 million hectares to look after, about 5 Mha of which are in indigenous forest. It was created through a collusion of Treasury, government and environmental groups, on the assumption that indigenous forests and other Crown-owned resources would be locked up, thus requiring no or very little funding to administer them (see Salmon, 1993). DoC has never attempted in its 13 years of existence to conduct multi-resource inventories over its whole forest resource, because it has neither the resources nor staff to do so and, anyway, there is no legislation requiring it to manage forests sustainably. Rather, the forests are largely left to survive on their own, in the mistaken belief that they can be preserved in their present state with virtually no managerial intervention.

The extreme environmental lobby in New Zealand makes much of the claim that indigenous forests have survived for thousands of years without management, and that they could continue to do so if forest clearing and wood harvesting were to cease. It pays scant regard, however, to the fact that introductions of animals such as possums, stoats, ferrets, weasels, goats, pigs, deer, and other domesticated livestock occurred only around 160 years ago and that most of the damage to the forests remaining after conversion to agriculture, is a consequence of the activities of such introduced pests. For example, there are at least 70 million possums today in New Zealand's forests eating around
300 g of foliage a year, thus depleting the living biomass by around 7.5 million tonnes a year, compared to annual wood harvests from indigenous forests of less than 0.05 Mt. O'Loughlin (1993) estimated the losses through possums alone to be 30 Mt a year, using evidence of relevant experts at a national workshop. A DoC conservator admitted (Cuddihy, 1993) that less than 2 percent of state indigenous forest administered by DoC had been subject to possum control when 92 per cent of the land area is colonised by this introduced animal. O'Loughlin (1993) indicated that 1 per cent was nearer the mark.

More than 50 mammal species were introduced in the middle of the nineteenth century to a country that had only a native bat prior to human settlement. Of these, 32 have thrived in most parts of the country. Polynesian colonists had brought rats and dogs, but their numbers did not appear to have had much impact on native wildlife. Management of wild animals such as deer, wallaby, chamois, thar, pig, goat, possum and feral farm animals has been the responsibility of various government departments, while control of mustelids, feral cats and dogs, rabbits, wasps and rats has been even less well co-ordinated. All have had major adverse impacts on vegetation, native fauna, soil and water. The clock cannot be turned back, their extermination is not possible and so New Zealand has to control and manage them to achieve positive outcomes for its ecosystems.

Since 1993, research into control of possums, for example, has been increased, but there is no evidence of the same level of increased funding for managerial control over the whole estate. Mustelids have virtually wiped out several native bird populations in some regions, even where there has never been tree harvesting, while in the two remaining podocarp forests still subject to selection harvests, monitoring has shown that native bird numbers have increased in recent years. Clearly, the need to monitor the condition and health of ecosystems is paramount in this sort of environment, but this apparent necessity is not being properly addressed.

Some protection of biodiversity and associated environmental values has been carried out by DoC staff in well-executed restorative projects on a few offshore islands and in relatively small areas of the two main islands. But perusal of DoC Annual Reports from its inception till 1999 confirms that about 90 per cent of indigenous forest resources have not been actively monitored and managed properly and there is, therefore, no official information available for commentators to analyse this aspect in more depth. We two, and some of our professional colleagues, have observed what appears to us major degradation in indigenous forest condition since 1987 in various parts of the country. The criteria and indicators required under the Montreal Process protocol, to which New Zealand is a signatory, have not and could not be reported over all indigenous forest without a major change of political and departmental attitude and support.

In 1986, the West Coast Accord was signed (see Salmon, 1993). The West Coast region contained the country's last area of indigenous timber production forest in State hands. This Accord officially gazetted c.130 000 ha of the 1.8 Mha of indigenous forest in the region for sustainable wood production. The Crown, moreover, owns at least 85 per cent of the 2.3 Mha of land on the West Coast. The 1986 agreement was worked out under the aegis of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), among regional and national government officials, environmental NGO's, foresters and sawmillers. The then Minister of Forests together with the then Deputy Prime Minister (today now Prime Minister) promised to uphold this Accord as a matter of honour, and urged all stakeholders to do likewise. In December 1999, within an hour of being sworn in, shareholding ministers directed Timberlands West Coast, (TWC, a derivative of NZFC) to alter its statement of corporate intent. This resulted in the abandonment of a resource consent hearing already in progress before the Environment Court. Why? Presumably, because there was every indication that the consent would be granted. Vanclay (1999), a recipient of the Queen's Award for Forestry in 1997 and well known to Commonwealth foresters, was stopped in the middle of presenting his evidence to the Environment Court. His evidence included the following statements.

"Perhaps the important question relating to sustainability is a simple one: will the forest still exist in the future and what will it look like? To me the answer is clear. I expect that the forest will look virtually indistinguishable from comparable areas from which timber harvesting has been excluded, with just two exceptions: the provision of roads may make the forest more accessible and the level of predator control may mean that TWC forests may have more birds" and
"New Zealand may achieve more for forest conservation globally by promoting the sustainable use of these beech forests, than can be achieved locally by adding to the already extensive beech conservation reserves."

The same sort of predicted outcomes would also have been conveyed at the hearing by several professional forest managers in New Zealand and by a professor of environmental science engaged by local government officials to advise them independently. But the newly elected central government had embraced the rhetoric of extreme environmentalists, had included in its electoral platform a promise to halt wood harvesting, whether sustainable or not, in state indigenous forests and did not appear willing to listen to the views of any forestry professionals.

Because of other legal and political wrangles the government found itself embroiled in, the Forests (West Coast Accord) Act was rushed through in May 2000. This Act overturned the 1986 West Coast Accord without real consultation with signatories. Guy Salmon, who now serves on the Ecologic Foundation, which is an organisation that focuses on sustaining rather than trying to preserve ecosystems, signed the Accord, was not consulted and wrote to the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister pleading with them not to overturn the Accord. But his plea fell on deaf ears. So much for politicians' honour.

The Resource Management Act 1991 was enacted "to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources". Sustainable management is defined in Section 5(2) as follows.

"Managing the use, development and protection of natural and physical resources in a way or at a rate which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural well-being, and for their health and safety, while:
(a) sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources (excluding minerals) to meet the reasonable foreseeable needs of future generations;
(c) avoiding, remedying or mitigating any adverse effects on the environment"

In effect, the RMA virtually re-stated basic precepts enunciated in the 1920 forest policy and applied them to all natural resources. The RMA is also consistent with principles agreed by the international community at the Rio Summit in 1992. The RMA, however, is enacted through District Plans, while, according to politicians in Wellington, the 1987 Conservation Act takes precedence over the RMA because it has guidelines that apply nationally. This is illogical given that the RMA was supposed to over-arch all legislation pertaining to the environment.

The Department of Conservation, moreover, is not required to manage its 9 or so million hectares of natural resources sustainably, whereas the Ministry of the Environment is charged with ensuring that all resources (except minerals) are managed sustainably. In the TWC case, central government over-ruled the procedures under which local governments operate, in effect confirming that the Conservation Act takes precedence over the RMA. The term "conservation" is defined in the 1987 Conservation Act to mean "the preservation and protection of natural and historic resources for the purpose of maintaining their intrinsic values, providing for their appreciation and recreational enjoyment by the public, and safeguarding the options of future generations". It later defines "preservation" to mean "the maintenance, so far as it is practicable, of its intrinsic values" and "protection" to mean "maintenance, so far as is practicable, in its current state; but includes- (a) its restoration to some former state and (b) its augmentation, enhancement, or expansion".

Unfortunately it explains neither what is meant contextually by the terms "intrinsic values" nor "practicable", but even worse, "sustainability, sustainable management" and similar terms are never even mentioned in any of the more than 200 pages of legalese by which the Act is described, far less defining and explaining the terms. Sustainability is, according to politicians simply implied. But without monitoring all resources and using adaptive management, as recommended in the IUCN's stated policy (see later), the logic of the Minister of Conservation and the Department of Conservation is seriously flawed.

There have been other associated problems with co-ordinating all of New Zealand's land-use legislation in practice. The main problem has been two distinct and conflicting interpretations of the RMA:

(1) to manage the trade-off among ecological, socio-economic and cultural values; and
(2) to preserve only so-called ecological values.

The latter interpretation has mostly prevailed, thus suggesting that the needs of people and local communities in particular are of little or no matter. Not only does this attitude appear to contradict domestic legislation but also it flouts international conventions, more about which later. It confirms Westoby's comment in his 1989 book, Introduction to World Forestry:

"...the conservation strategies [countries have] adopted to date, and the elements of
forest policy they include, consist of pious aspirations, rather than being a set of specific targets linked to declared social objectives and accompanied by detailed programmes"

The Forests Amendment Act 1993 ("FAA") which became Part IIIA of the 1949 Forests Act, focussed on sustainable forest management and defined it as:

" management of an area of indigenous forest land in a way that maintains the ability of the forest growing on that land to continue to provide a full range of products and amenities in perpetuity while retaining the forest's natural values".

The FAA specifically excluded DoC and TWC from having to manage their indigenous forests sustainably. TWC, however, developed plans for sustainable forest management and has implemented these in podocarp forests in South Westland, while DoC has never shown any inclination to develop sustainable ecosystem management plans, has not been required to, and could not succeed in so doing without huge annual increases in staffing and funding. Yet, the likely fate of TWC indigenous forest will be the transfer of all its 130 000 ha to the DoC so-called conservation estate.

The Deputy Prime Minister in consultation with the Minister of Conservation replied to a letter from one of us seeking unification of resource legislation. In it he said that a major difficulty was "a lack of understanding over the meaning of sustainable and that a committee of enquiry was to be established to define what it meant". That the outcomes of, for example, the Rio Summit, the Montreal Process, New Zealand's RMA and FAA all deal with and define sustainability seems to have been lost on these two senior ministers, while examples of how sustainable management of not only wood harvests have been demonstrated in some countries for at least two centuries have also fallen on deaf ears. Worse still, the Minister of Conservation according to a press release has spelled out that she expects her committee on the meaning of sustainability to confirm the preservation ethic in its report.

This view also flies in the face, of course, of the IUCN Policy Statement on Use of Wild Living Resources, made at its convention in Amman, Jordan in October 2000 and attended by around 850 conservation organisations. The IUCN policy does recognise that the overall objective in conservation is resource sustainability, that consumptive as well as non-consumptive uses are legitimate, that sustainable use can encourage conservation and provide incentives to individuals and communities to monitor and manage effectively, and that reporting of outcomes is thus facilitated. The IUCN advocates adaptive management, which is what TWC intended to practise but which DoC does not. DoC is a member of the IUCN and was represented at the October 2000 gathering when the latest policy statement was announced. We two authors do not know whether or not the New Zealand delegates supported that statement. There has been no mention, however, of these resolutions by the media in New Zealand. Clearly New Zealand indigenous forestry is being politically directed to swim incoherently against the tide of international opinion.


When the Forest Service was dis-established in 1987, the Forestry Corporation inherited about
550 000 hectares of well-managed plantations. No detailed analysis of costs and benefits was ever undertaken to justify this reorganisation, nor for that matter of the overall environmental administration, nor indeed of the whole public service. Furthermore, there has been no comprehensive analysis of the gains expected from all the re-structuring and the levels of achieving those expected gains. Some say that the Forest Service over-managed, but much of its high overhead cost was allocated to sustaining the environment, social systems, recreational opportunities and aesthetic values, for which there had been grossly inadequate funding from previous governments of the day.

There was also a hidden agenda to which the Chairman of NZFC was committed, but to which none of the NZFC staff, not even its chief executive, was party. The then government had again, without consultation and without any real financial or environmental analyses, already decided that corporatisation was simply a prelude to a total sale of assets to private companies. The selling of cutting rights to the forests (though not the land on which they grew) compounded this error of judgement all at once. The prices paid were consequently too low and most buyers simply recouped their purchase costs through opportunistic sales of logs on a buoyant export market within a matter of a few years. That company capital would have been better invested in added value wood-processing capabilities. Today, it is still a problem in that log exports have increased from 4 per cent in 1985 to 19 in 1990, 30 in 1995, 35 in 2000 and projected to be 40 per cent in 2005 (Lane, 2000). Although there are indications from wood processors that $467 million will be invested in the period 2000 to 2005, the wood supply capability will be 22 Mm3, but the domestic wood-processing capacity will still not exceed 13 Mm3.

This is but one reason why former Forest Service Directors-General, such as Poole, Thomson and O'Neill have been so bitter about the squandering of the wonderful resource they had helped to create (see Poole, 1993; Thomson, 1993; and O'Neill, Thomson & Poole, 1994). The maturity, risk averse and aesthetic qualities of the plantation resource have all declined. For example, the average age of clear-felling radiata pine keeps dropping, 28.2 years of age in 1998 and 27.1 in 1999 (see MAF's web page, 2000). If there had been adequate investment of new technology of the kind indicated by Walker (2000), this would not have mattered so much, but plantation wood of that age makes the task of processing and producing traditional wood products efficiently here and overseas much more difficult.

The plantation forests in New Zealand have been monitored annually to some extent since 1982 through a process call the National Exotic Forest Description (see, for example, Whyte 1994). The statistics are now reported on the web ( The total area of commercial plantations as of 1 April 1999 was 1.73 Mha, of which 91 per cent was either privately owned or with a registered private company. Over 90 per cent is still in radiata pine, 5 per cent in Douglas fir, while the rest is split evenly between other exotic conifers and exotic hardwoods. The total standing volume was estimated to be 353 Mm3 in 1999, an increase of 15 Mm3 over the 1998 figure. But the harvest over the same period was 16.5 Mm3 and so exceeded the current, far less the mean annual increment of the forest resource.

Forest industry strategies are not likely to improve, because the number of plantation forest owners has escalated (largely as a result of many small private investors having dominated the new plantings in the last 12 years). Many of these small investors have been promised early returns for their outlay based on anticipated log exports. There is the added complication that monitoring of resources in terms of both wood and non-wood characteristics has not been adequately anticipated. The major industry organisations are still arguing about how to monitor and audit their own resources. Indications are that annual costs of around US$35 per ha will be needed to satisfy international certification processes, but this level has never been contemplated in calculations for investors. But plantation forestry, if strategies were soundly revised, could remain commercially profitable even with costs of this magnitude.

Part of the New Zealand strategy to reduce the adverse impact of temporary or even permanent failures in securing anticipated plantation wood supplies of the desired quality, moreover, is to fall back on production from the native forests. But with the clear intent of governments to eliminate all harvesting in the indigenous forests, our skill and expertise in managing this fall-back resource is fast disappearing. To monitor, account and audit indigenous forest in order to manage them sustainably and adaptively to conserve them, is likely to cost at least US$200 million a year for the indigenous forests and US$60 million a year for the plantation resource.

So how can we persuade politicians and captains of industry in New Zealand to face up to reality?


Available time and space constraints permit us to make just a few suggestions. The NZ Institute of Forestry has a clear policy on managing indigenous forests and is in the process of updating a policy on forestry in general for New Zealand that is coherently integrated with its indigenous forest policy. An indigenous forestry group also has a policy on indigenous forest silviculture, and it is not incompatible with the NZIF one. The New Zealand Forest Industries Council (NZFIC) shows no interest in indigenous forests and is confining its attention to certification processes only for commercial plantations. Adopting this approach simply confirms that NZFIC is being consistent with its stance on the 1993 New Zealand Forest Accord, which for the forest industry, through distancing itself altogether from indigenous forestry, is simply a way of keeping on-side with the extreme environmental lobby. The suggestions here are related to changing entrenched perceptions of politicians, legislators and leaders of industry. Delegates at this conference may wish to question and comment on our choice.

First and foremost, the laws of the country need to be unified, as recommended at the 1989 Commonwealth Forestry Conference. The Resource Management Act should have precedence over the Conservation Act. That is the main legislative inconsistency that needs to be tidied up, but there are others that should also be considered. For example, the FAA excludes DoC, TWC, owners of planted indigenous forest owners and some Maori owners from having to manage forest resources sustainably; the 1986 Environment Act needs to be wholly integrated within the revised RMA, 1949 Forests Act and Conservation Act. All forest owners should be required to manage their forest resources sustainably, monitor outcomes, report them transparently and adopt adaptive management that is appropriate to the circumstances.

Second, local government, communities and individuals should be given the responsibility and bear the cost of using and conserving resources sustainably. Overseas examples (see, for instance, Westoby 1989) provide clear evidence that sustainable forest management cannot be achieved without the participation and co-operation of community stakeholders. If communities perceive that their social and economic wellbeing depends on their securing sustainable outcomes, there is a far greater chance of achieving this end. Central government direction and control of what locals can and cannot do is much less likely to succeed. A trade-off that might be considered is that DoC could lease some of its forest resource to individuals or communities (as it already does for non-woody products such as gathering moss, lichen and honeydew, hunting, grazing and the like), and audit people's use of the resource. This would reduce the cost of multi-resource monitoring and management treatment that DoC ought to be doing at present but is not. Responsibility for monitoring and adaptive management through this sort of participation would lie with the lease-holders, communities and local government and so help with the required process of reporting criteria and indicators in order to fulfil obligations as a signatory to, for example, the Montreal Process.

Exactly the same principle and requirement to monitor should apply to plantation forest owners, but in this case a different organisation such as the Commission for the Environment or MAF should administer the audit of plantation forest owners' performance. This should present no problems for plantations on Crown-owned lands, as cutting licences have to be renewed or transferred some time or other. But it may be more difficult for the new crop of small owners unless co-operative management and marketing of produce is put in place.

Thirdly, politicians need to accept that sustainable forest management with wood production is feasible. Indeed the IUCN Policy Statement clearly encourages it. Eighty five per cent of the New Zealand public has made it clear in five re-measured polls taken over a period of three years by a recognised polling agency that, provided that wood harvesting is sustainable and aesthetically acceptable, there can be no objection to it. Only between 10 and 12 per cent of the population have been totally opposed to any form of harvesting. But our current crop of government politicians regards the views of no more than 12 per cent as representing a clear mandate to ban harvesting in State indigenous forests.

Fourthly, much more emphasis needs to be placed on efficient processing and manufacture of engineered rather than solid wood products. Given also that New Zealand has been incurring an import bill of around $1000 million annually for a range of forest products, some of which may be emanating from countries where sustainable forest management is not being practised, urgent consideration should be given to reviewing how New Zealand could become more self-sufficient in its consumption of forest products. There is also a need to invest in wood-processing capabilities that will reduce the need to sell so much of our wood supply as export logs and add value through manufacturing finished products that are readily marketable both domestically and overseas.

Last on this list, New Zealand should return to some form of multiple-use management if only to comply with international agreements and protocols to which it is signatory. There is little doubt that a Forest Service is better able to practise this than private owners with a dominating concern to make a profit. Without a Forest Service, moreover, there will be a growing difficulty in coming years to secure personnel with sufficient skill and experience to carry out such duties as vetting sustainable forest management plans (required under the FAA), assisting with bio-security and border surveillance, offering expert professional advice to politicians that is independent of industry self-interest, scrutinising returns of registered sawmillers, gathering technical forestry statistics and so on. Alternatively, subsuming forestry interests less disproportionately within MAF needs careful consideration.

These suggestions are only an indication of a much wider range of options that might be considered. Nevertheless, they should indicate just how wide the scope is for re-structuring forestry in New Zealand constructively and halt this inexorable decline in the condition of our forest ecosystems brought about through irrational policies of governments and industries.



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