Report awaited on land slip issue
A REPORT DETAILING STRATEGIES TO DEAL with future flood-related land slip issues, like June’s Tolaga Bay incident, is expected to be finalised by the end of the year.
An Erosion-prone Land Workshop organised after that event, which saw hundreds of thousands of tonnes of slash and tree debris washed into rivers and over farms and roads.
Russell Dale, CEO of Forest Growers Research, told the organisation’s 2018 conference in Tauranga last month that a draft report summarising key actions had already been released pending the full report that is due soon.
He says experts predict these severe rain events will happen again and probably with more frequency and severity, so forestry needs to take action now.
Mr Dale says the National Environmental Standards regulations that only came into effect earlier this year will result in change and improvements, given time.
However, there is much the industry can do to mitigate the situation now, including the need to ensure that slash is left in a secure place where it cannot get into waterways, as well as building slash barriers. Where possible it would be desirable for some residues to be removed from the forest altogether to be used as fuel or in other ways.
PF Olsen’s Environmental Manager, Kit Richards, told the conference foresters can no longer label these incidents ‘acts of God’ and there is a need to step up and take ownership, because communities are becoming openly hostile towards forestry.
“We are at the point of severe reputational risk,” he says, adding that the industry must get better at recognising and understanding the underlying problems and how to address them.
Mr Richards says that as much as 20% of steep land current planted in trees may not be suitable for this purpose and owners will need to look at retiring it.