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Forest Owners urges study of draft Freshwater National Environmental Standard

Peter Weir

New Zealand’s Forest Owners Association has urged the industry to study the exposure draft of the new Freshwater National Environmental Standard, as well as the more stringent National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. Source: Timberbiz

Association President Peter Weir said his association and the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association welcomed the opportunity to join the national conversation on freshwater management.

He said he was pleased that the positive contribution plantation forestry makes to the environment is acknowledged in the just released freshwater discussion documents, but also acknowledges that, in some steepland erosion-prone catchments, under severe storm conditions, community expectations for water quality have not yet been met.

“The forest industry is deeply committed to doing its part to further improve freshwater quality,” Mr Weir said.

“It is heartening that the government has clearly stated that it realises all forms of forests, indigenous and plantation, ‘play a significant role in providing freshwater resources and ecosystem services, such as water quality, water yield, recreation, and biodiversity’. The detail of the Freshwater NES is important,” he said.

“We are looking closely at the setback rules for streams.  We agree with the government that the minimum distance rule for using the land should be based on the nature of the stream and the risk and effect of the use of the land.

“We note that two setback distances are suggested for intensive winter grazing.  They are five metres and twenty metres,” Mr Weir said.

“Given that the present National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forests requires a five metre planting setback from small streams and a ten metre setback from larger streams, its makes no sense that year on year intensive winter grazing should be able to be closer to a stream than we are permitted to grow a tree.”