Sustainable indigenous forestry in N Z

Brian Swale bj at
Mon Feb 14 17:10:49 EST 2000

A lot of the discusson on this topic misses the point on what is happening
in New Zealand with regards to sustainable forestry in the beech forests of the
 South Island. West Coast.

It has absolutely nothing to do with agroforestry in New Zealand. Agroforestry is 
regarded in New Zealand as the use of valuable tree crops in (usually high value)
pastoral farning enterprises such as outdoor beef, dairying or sheep. The tree 
species may be Pinus radiata, very carefully tended, or species of eucalypt, walnut
oak, ash,  robinia, acacia or what  have you also very carefully tended.

Timberlands West Coast, an artificial construct of the 1897 Laboiur Government 
which did away with the highly productive New Zealand Forest Service.and sold 
the forests to mailnly overseas companies, is a government-owned company with 
just two shareholders, both Ministers in the Cabinet. It was set up to manage and 
use indigenous forest. 

In November 1999 the newly elected  Labour  minority government, using fallacious 
argument promulgated by protectionist groups such as the Royal Forest and Bird Society,  
obtained a lot of vital "green" vote from the dense urban electorates in the far northern 
metropolis of Auckland.  Without this green vote they would not have got into power.

A major plank of their election campaign, as far as the Auckland/Coromandel green
vote was concerned, was that Labour would put an immediate stop to the process that 
was just getting under way in a statutory Land Use Planning Court, that Timberlands 
West Coast had begun in order to be able to lawfully commence managing some of their
Nothofagus beech forest sustainably for high value timber using helicopter log extraction. 
The planned rate of timber extraction was just 50% of the natural rate of mortality, and they 
intended to harvest mainly moribund trees.

They planned to go to extraordinary effort to ensure the continued existence of threatened
wildlife, mainly birds and bats, but including some plants including mistletoes.

The new Labour Prime Minister, Helen Clark, is well known from the 1980's as having a 
grest dislike and mistrust of forestry professionals and their association with indigenous 

The people who are campaigning for the resumption of the Land Use Planning Court hearings
consider that the future of professional, ethical, forestry indigenous forests in NZ is at stake.

The proposals of Timberlands for the management of their Nothofagus beech forest are a
ground-breaking worls-wide example of what might be achieved for the productive conservation 
of natural forest.

Part of the argument is the beech growth models available from Landcare Research, a Crown
Research Institiute, which have been used as evidence against the management proposals by 
government ministers and others.. Many people find, and refereed papers are about to appear 
which will argue, that these models are severely flawed.

They may be downloaded from (version 2)
and (version 1)

An online history and ongoing commentary may be found at

keep an eye on this one as we are adding material all the time

and the Timberlands site is well worth looking at; try

(also use the left-hand menu)


Don't hesitate to look at these, because it is quite on the cards that government pressure may see
these pages taken down in the foreseeable future. 

Brian Swale

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