Forestry sector must compensate for slash damage

The Green Party welcomes today’s release of the report of the Ministerial Inquiry into slash and sediment, and are clear that the forestry industry must foot more of the bill.

“The repeated damage that forestry slash has caused has huge impacts on the environment and people’s wellbeing. It’s hard to stay optimistic when the land, crops, farms, rivers, beaches, and the coast are being devastated by poor industry practices. It’s essential that the industry foots the bill and compensates the communities who are affected so massively,” says Greens forestry and environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“The recommendations based on meeting 50 community organisations and engaging with more than 500 people are a clear basis for action.

“As the report notes, current land use and slash and sediment is an “environmental disaster unfolding in plain sight.” We agree that the regulatory environment is “broken.”

“The Green Party has been saying for many years that the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry are “too permissive”. Associate Environment Minister James Shaw started work to reform the NES-PF earlier this term. Cabinet will need to consider this report and whether further changes need to be made based on the findings.

“The report recommends costs be shared ‘equitably’, which means forestry companies should not be able to offload the impacts of their operations onto councils, farmers, and communities who are confronted with the consequences of slash and sediment.

“It’s also essential the recommendations are implemented with the same pace and attention the inquiry has applied to engaging with Ngāti Porou, councils and the wider community.

"In 1994, Former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Helen Hughes released a comprehensive report into the East Coast forestry project on land use, forestry, and related issues to promote more sustainable land use in Tairāwhiti.

“Many of those recommendations were not implemented. If they had been, the people of Tairāwhiti and Wairoa and the region’s land, rivers and coast may not have been so badly affected by slash and sediment after the cyclones.

“We cannot repeat that mistake. Our people and the communities they live in, our rivers, land and beaches, should not have to bear the physical and financial costs of an industry which is 70% overseas owned,” says Eugenie Sage.

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