Possible approach: A non-regulatory national plantation forestry guideline
A national guideline as an alternative to a national environmental standard was canvassed.
Part 1: Land-use planning
Apply a nationally consistent approach for identifying where plantation forestry should be located and/or continued as a land use. This would involve the identification and mapping of areas throughout the country that are suitable for afforestation and replanting using available land-use capability mapping and associated descriptive classes. The approach would indicate what the appropriate activity status under the RMA could be (permitted, controlled, restricted discretionary, etc) for planting, depending on the land capability constraints and other attributes identified. Areas excluded for planting would include previously defined significant natural areas, conservation areas, and areas that are highly susceptible to erosion or slips.
Part 2: Guidelines for plantation forestry operations
Ensuring best management practices in forest management and technological flexibility in the range of methods used in mitigating the environmental impacts of forestry, particularly those relating to land-disturbing activities and impacts on aquatic ecosystems (freshwater and coastal). This would involve the development of national guidelines based on available and new best practice for forestry operations. Existing guidelines and guidelines in development could be used as the basis for the national guideline, with best-practice guidelines for sediment and environmental management being incorporated. Regional bio-geographic variability appropriate for all forestry could also be reflected in the national guidelines.
Part 3: Industry certainty
Providing more certainty of the right to harvest forests planted for harvesting purposes. Part 3 would be developed in conjunction with Part 2. It would provide guidance on the long-term authorisation of forestry using either the designation process or 35 years or greater, based on a forest management plan and adherence to national guidelines.
Possible approach: A national accredited operator standard
A national accredited operator system could apply in conjunction with the national environmental standard or as an alternative. Like the Environment Bay of Plenty accredited operator standard, it would accredit competent forestry operators and allow the resource consent controls or the cost for obtaining approval to be minimised.
The standard could be beneficial because it would:
- improve consistency of on-the-ground practice
- encourage and recognise best practice
- reduce monitoring costs for local authorities
- reduce consents and associated costs for the forestry sector.