B+LNZ’s initial reaction to slash inquiry

// Freshwater // Climate Change

Overall, we welcome the report released last week by the Ministerial Inquiry into the impacts of woody debris (including forestry slash) and sediment in the Tairawhiti/Gisborne and Wairoa Districts.

image of forestry debris

Outrage to optimism report: corrected 17 May 2023 (PDF, 16.7 MB)

The report highlights the challenges of land management in the erosion-prone East Coast region and supports many of the things that B+LNZ, Federated Farmers and farmers have been raising concerns about.

Key findings/recommendations we support include: 

  • the critical need for better management of forestry and carbon-only related forestry in the region
  • recognition that the current ETS policy settings and rising carbon price is incentivising afforestation, creating perverse land-use outcomes with damaging outcomes for communities, and that elements of the ETS urgently need to be reviewed 
  • the need for better recognition of the carbon stored in older native forests (pre-1990)
  • the lack of current standards/rules controlling the management and location of permanent exotic monoculture carbon forests
  • the need for a review of the Overseas Investors approval criteria and in particular reviewing the approval of the sale of Huiarua and Matanui stations. 

There are some areas where we need more information to better understand the implications of what is being proposed.

  • An integrated approach to land-use on the East Coast has been proposed to manage highly erodible gullies through the planting of permanent native vegetation – we need to understand what this practically means.
  • We would be concerned at the prospect of any large-scale retirement of productive hill country farmland under any rezoning programme.  
  • It’s really important that any process does not impose a blunt one-size fits all approach. We need a smart and strategic approach that recognises the varying land-classes and topographical variations within farms.  

Given the potential implications of this report to pastoral farming, it is vital the sheep and beef sector is involved in the Government’s consideration of the recommendations and has a seat at the table before any decisions are made.