National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry take effect

New plantation forestry regulations will better protect the environment while improving productivity within the forestry sector, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says.

The new National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry come into effect today.

Mr Jones says they provide a nationally consistent set of regulations to manage the environmental effects of plantation forestry activities undertaken in New Zealand’s 1.7 million hectares of plantation forestry.

“Forestry is our third largest primary industry but its efficiency has been hindered by variation in planning rules across New Zealand’s multitude of councils,” he says.

“Many large forests cover multiple council boundaries, resulting in different rules for the same forest.

“From today that forest will be governed by one set of rules.

“Greater certainty around the rules should encourage more investment in the forestry industry, providing a boost for regional economies. The regulations also create a consistent operating environment for any plantation forestry established under the One Billion Trees programme.”

The standards are based on existing good practice standards for the forestry industry and include three risk-assessment tools developed to manage the environmental impacts from forestry, covering the issues of erosion, wilding conifers and fish spawning.

“The benefits of these tools are that the restrictions on forestry activities are related to the environmental risk rather than which council area a forestry operation is in,” Mr Jones says.

“The regulations cover eight core plantation forestry activities: afforestation, pruning and thinning to waste, earthworks, river crossings, forest quarrying, harvesting, mechanical land preparation and replanting. Councils may apply stricter rules for these activities in specific circumstances to manage locally significant or sensitive areas.”

The standard was developed jointly by Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry for the Environment. It was gazetted in August 2017 with a delay in commencement to 1 May 2018 to enable councils and foresters to understand their responsibilities under the regulations and put in place processes to meet these responsibilities.

Foresters and councils have been supported in this process through a series of regional workshops. These were attended by more than 600 foresters and council representatives throughout New Zealand.

The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry will be reviewed in 12 months to ensure they are being successfully implemented.

Source: Minister for Forestry

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