Today’s news of a Ministerial inquiry into forestry slash and land use in Te Tarāwhiti/Gisborne and Wairoa is welcome, but the forestry sector should have to compensate councils, landowners and communities for the enormous damage caused by land and logging management which has generated so much slash and sediment.
“Forestry companies should not be able to offload the costs of their operations onto councils for bridge and infrastructure repair, farmers whose crops have been flattened and land is now unusable, and communities who are confronted with tonnes of slash clogging local rivers and beaches,” says Greens forestry and environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.
“It’s heart-breaking to see the impacts of the slash on people and nature. It’s made the damage from the heavy rain in Cyclone Gabrielle so much worse. The repeated damage the slash has caused has huge impacts on people’s wellbeing. It’s hard to stay optimistic when the land, crops, farms, rivers, beaches, and coast where people live are being devastated by these effects of poor industry practice.
“The Government and the Inquiry need to ensure the forestry industry provides compensation for the damage to land, infrastructure and the environment that the slash has caused. Councils, landholders and communities should not yet again be left with the bill for the clean-up costs caused by forestry slash.
“The Greens are pleased that the inquiry is required to make recommendations on land use, economic drivers and regulatory changes. Too much steep, erosion prone land that is unsuitable for farming or horticulture or other uses has been designated for forestry. A stronger regulatory regime for forestry has long been needed. Alongside this, the inquiry needs to consider a co-ordinated and just transition to support the region, communities, iwi, hapu and Māori landowners move to sustainable land uses while supporting those employed in, and dependent on the industry.
“To be clear, we simply cannot let things continue as they are. The Government needs to act to ensure that people and communities, rivers, land and beaches are not having to bear the costs of an industry which is 70% overseas owned,” says Eugenie Sage.