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We’ll start this morning with the Government’s inquiry into slash, and the damning recommendations that found that production forestry should be banned in extreme erosion zones around Wairoa and Gisborne. Limits should be introduced around how much of a forest can be felled in a single year. And when it's spelled out like that, why would you need an inquiry to tell you? It just makes common sense, doesn't it? Production forestry should be banned in extreme erosion zones.
And limits should be introduced around how much of a forest can be felled in a single year. Again, even those of us without any experience in forestry would say, well, yeah, that makes common sense.
The Government, of course, commissioned the inquiry into land use and forestry slash after Cyclone Gabriel, concentrating on the Wairoa and Tairāwhiti Gisborne regions. As you'll remember —and those shocking, shocking photos showed— severe slips and erosion during the cyclone resulted in the woody debris and silt washing onto land and down waterways into those regions, causing significant damage.
But it wasn't the first rodeo for many of the people who own farms and land in the areas around the forest. They have been battered, quite literally, by slash for years and have been asking for something to be done about forestry in those areas for years. There is nothing new in this.
A second pre budget announcement yesterday as well saw 10.5 million earmarked for the clean-up of forestry slash and other woody debris in Tairāwhiti and Hawkes Bay. There's 70,000 tons of the stuff and rivers and catchment areas on the East Coast. Forestry Minister Peeni Henare says the clean-up effort needs to start straight away.
Well, really it needed to start three months ago. Hello Red Cross, anybody there? Anybody? That would have made a small dint in getting it cleaned up, but no? Nobody? Still going to hold on to that money?
So I would love to hear from people of the region, those involved in forestry as well, because so many areas around the country have been planted out in pine and as we can see, there is the possibility that where it's planted in the wrong place, it's going to cause huge problems.
Interestingly, this was supposed to be the solution to a problem. Because when Cyclone Bola swept through Gisborne causing so much damage, or swept through New Zealand but impacted the Tairāwhiti Gisborne area greatly. The erosion there caused huge amounts of problems where the land had been clear felled of Native forest for farming. And so the answer to that was, hey, let's put Pine Forest in there and that'll hold the hills together, and that'll keep the soil together and it will also provide employment for so many people in the area who would otherwise have to leave to look for work.
So this was supposed to be a solution to an obvious problem. It's turned out to be a bigger problem than ever.
Where does it leave the future of forestry in this country? Is there still a place for it?
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