Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No more clear-felling for any reason!

A very big issue at stake - "what should happen when the $20 million New Zealand taxpayers spent to protect Maori-owned native forests in the South Island runs out in June next year.

Efforts to rescue the most precious 5000ha of native forest from the risk of being unsustainably felled look so far to have protected only a sixth of it.

Not good enough

The Nature Heritage Fund has negotiated protection deals on seven sections totalling only 808ha for $7.166m - the equivalent of $8868/ha, or $44.3m if the cost was similar for all 5000ha.

It has committed another $8.12m for other owners."

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) on the 6th announced a review of the rescue policy put together in 2002 to protect the old-growth forest on land set aside under the 1906 South Island Landless Natives Act (Silna). The act covered 57,538ha - 400 blocks mostly in Southland and Stewart Island, with small areas on the West Coast and in Marlborough.

About 5000ha - outside Stewart Island, Waitutu and Whakapoai blocks - is regarded as priority for conservation: the Tautauku-Waikawa blocks on the southeast Otago coast, and the West Rowallan and Waitutu blocks on the Southland coast.

My whanau is from Waikawa, and some are still there, my mother went to school at Niagra and is part owner of Maori land at Tautuku, my whanau are buried in the urupa.

Taxpayer funding started as bid to stop Silna landowners clearfelling trees.

Some Silna landowners filed a Treaty of Waitangi claim in 1990 arguing they were not getting full economic use of the land - mainly because of restrictions on logging native forests.

The Silna owners claimed their lands were exempted from obligations in law to sustainably manage indigenous forest because they were given as compensation to Maori early last century.

But Crown lawyers eventually said the land was given to Maori as a gift, rather than as compensation for not having other land from which they could earn a living.

Problems came to a head with clearfelling of native forest on Silna land in the scenic Catlins region, south of Balclutha.

The Government signed up more than half the remaining landowners of Silna forests in other areas to a moratorium under which they received money for paying the rates - effectively holding off on destruction of the bush.

Initial payments from 1999, described by MAF as a "goodwill payment" of $34/ha in exchange for a voluntary moratorium on logging of Silna forests, ran until 2006.

In 2002, taxpayers provided another $19.691 million - initially over seven years - to extend the voluntary moratorium on logging, and to protect forest.

As I said a very big issue. i don't know all of the ins and outs of this issue but I do know that we will not be able to grow native forest like these blocks again. So I say a line in the sand must be drawn. NO MORE CLEAR FELLING. For us and our children after us.
Yes - compensation must be sought and lets support that bid and make the amounts meaningful and influential but cutting down the last remaining forest is not the answer - to any question!

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