Forestry standard part of Govt’s plan to simplify RMA

A new National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry to simplify and standardise Resource Management Act requirements was proposed today by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew at Paengaroa Forest in the Bay of Plenty.

“The current system for environmental regulation of forestry is complex and confusing with thousands of different rules across New Zealand’s 78 councils. This proposed standard will simplify the rules and save the forestry industry millions in compliance costs while ensuring environmental issues like wilding pines, protecting spawning fish and erosion are better managed,” Dr Smith says.

“This new standard is part of our reforms to simplify the Resource Management Act by providing clearer national direction. It parallels new policy statements and standards covering electricity, coastal management, freshwater management, telecommunications and water metering.”

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew says the purpose of the standard is to reduce costs for the forestry industry.

“Right now, the rules for plantation forestry vary significantly, depending on which local authority is responsible,” says Mrs Goodhew. “Because forests often stretch across two or more boundaries the forestry industry has had to deal with unnecessary costs and uncertainty.

“Sometimes the differences between plans are in response to local conditions, but often the reason for the variation is not clear. These proposals will make a huge difference to the more than 18,000 people who work in the forestry industry.

“Forest operators will no longer need to ensure their crews meet multiple sets of planning rules, and the industry will be able to standardise their systems. It will also save the forestry industry from having to participate in hundreds of local planning processes and appeals across the many councils.

“Forestry plays a critical role in New Zealand’s economy as our third largest export and this will improve our competitiveness and our environmental reputation. I encourage the industry and the public to provide feedback on the proposals to help us get this single set of rules right.”

The proposal introduces technical standards for plantation forestry activities and includes a draft set of rules for each of the eight core plantation forestry activities: afforestation, pruning and thinning-to-waste, earthworks, river crossings, forestry quarrying, harvesting, mechanical land preparation, and replanting.

The final proposals will incorporate feedback from submissions and, if progressed, the National Environmental Standard would come into effect in 2016.

The Ministry for Primary Industries will host a series of public meetings and hui where people can learn more about the draft rules and ask questions directly of those involved.

Further information, including the meeting schedule, the proposal, and on how to make a submission, is available at: http://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-and-resources/consultations/proposed-national-environmental-standard-for-plantation-forestry/