17 Jun 2015

Proposed standards please forest owners

7:57 pm on 17 June 2015

Forest owners have welcomed the Government's proposal to introduce a national environmental standard for plantations.

The National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry is launched

The National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry is launched Photo: Supplied

Currently, plantation owners have to comply with significantly different rules set by 78 councils.

The government said a national standard, introduced as part of reforms to the Resource Management Act, would simplify the rules and save the forestry industry millions in compliance costs.

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew said it would strengthen environmental protection in some areas.

"But it will be a consistent standard across the country, and it will also include the use of tools that are very important for environmental management, around issues like wilding pines, protecting spawning fish, and erosion susceptibility."

Forest Owners Association's environment committee chair Peter Weir said locally-based rules had made it difficult to manage forests in more than one region, or blocks that straddle more than one region.

"Kaiangaroa, the big plantation, 160,000-odd hectares, does exactly that - different culvert rules, different harvesting rules, in different sections of the same forest. Now this will simplify the rules.

"It's not lowering any environmental standards, but it will produce better outcomes because there will be a consistent suite of rules depending [on] how susceptible to erosion the land under your forestry is," he said.

"So if it's a low erosion risk, you'll be able to do pretty much all forestry activities as a permitted activity, subject to terms and conditions defined in this [standard]. However if your land under your trees is highly susceptible to erosion, then you'll default out of the NES [National Environment Standard], into the regional council's resource consenting process."

The Government has released the plan for consultation with the aim of putting it into effect next year.

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