This bulletin provides a short update on matters of interest to the plantation forestry sector.
National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry
The Proposed National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry was released for public consultation in September 2010. Public submissions closed in October 2010, with a large number of submissions being made from a range of interested parties, including local authorities and various participants in the forestry industry. Approximately 49% of submitters supported or conditionally supported the proposal, with 35% in opposition (remaining 16% not stated).
In response, a multi-sector working group has been established by the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and four technical groups are considering erosion susceptibility mapping, water issues, climate change, ETS implications, biodiversity and wilding tree issues. Two key developments are as follows:
MfE is working to develop an national erosion potential map at 1:50,000 scale, which will be used in conjunction with the regulatory framework proposed by the NES to determine the consent status of forestry activities such as afforestation, harvesting and earthworks. The concept of an "approved operator" standard (similar to the approach adopted by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council) is under consideration. This concept could apply in conjunction with the proposed NES or as an alternative. The accreditation of competent forestry operators who have good environmental management systems, including audited self management and recognised good management practices, could avoid the need for those operators to obtain resource consent for earthworks and other activities that currently require consent.
It is likely that MfE will seek feedback on these matters and other work completed in response to submissions on the NES, through a further round of submissions in the near future.
National Policy Statement on Biodiversity
The Government has recently released a National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity. The purpose of the proposed NPS is to provide clearer direction to local authorities on their responsibilities for managing indigenous biodiversity. The Government is currently seeking feedback on the proposal, with public submissions open until 2 May 2011.
Once operative, the proposed NES could require local authorities to revisit district and regional plans to ensure appropriate measures are in place to manage and protect indigenous biodiversity. This requirement would exist independent of the proposed NES for plantation forestry, which (as currently drafted) allows local authorities to develop 'local rules' to manage indigenous vegetation.
In summary, outputs from the NPS process will critically influence the future content and direction of district and regional plans. Here in Canterbury at least, any additional rules regarding indigenous biodiversity protection could significantly affect proposals for new plantation forests located in hill country and around water bodies.
Emissions Trading Scheme Review
The Government has recently announced that it will be completing a review of the Emissions Trading Scheme. The purpose of this review will be to ensure that the scheme is meeting its purpose of reducing emissions at least possible cost and that New Zealand is appropriately pacing itself on climate change relative to its key trading partners.
A potential outcome of this review is that if other trading partners are not making progress, the Government may decide to further delay the dates on which other key industries enter the scheme. This has potential implications for the forestry sector as it may impact on the tradeable value of carbon credits and the incentive to plant new forests.
The review is being chaired by David Caygill, in combination with a panel of six other experts of various backgrounds. Once the review team has released its finding, opportunity will be provided for public submissions.
ECan NRRP Rules & Adderley Head Workshop
Environment Canterbury has recently released it decisions on the Natural Resource Regional Plan. Although several appeals have been lodged, the majority of the plan is now operative. This plan will have a significant impact on forestry activities in the region and contains rules relating to the following matters, among others:
Forestry plantings in identified 'flow sensitive catchments' and the effects on water yield;
Agrichemical use and hazardous substances; and
Activities near or within water bodies, including lakes and rivers.
Adderley Head is hosting a workshop to discuss key features of the NRRP and how they will affect the forestry sector in Canterbury. An invite to this event will issue soon. We look forward to seeing you there.
Disclaimer: This is a brief sumamry for information purposes only and is not legal advice.
Posted on Thursday 10th March, 2011 at 02:53 pm