EWC welcomes Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use report

12 MAY 2023

The Eastland Wood Council – Te Kaunihera Pororākau o Te Tairāwhiti (EWC) has today welcomed the release of the Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use report.

EWC CEO Philip Hope says: “This thorough report is an important step forward for our community, as we all make changes necessary to protect our whānau and our whenua and combat the increasingly severe weather that we face.”

“Forestry is an important part of the economic and social fabric of Tairāwhiti, and as an industry, we are working hard to regain the trust and confidence of our community.

“This report outlines a clear series of recommendations and encourages greater collaboration across the board, including with iwi and mana whenua, and local and central government. We really welcome this, and we are committed to playing our part in the solution and leading improvements from within the industry.”

EWC welcomes the findings addressed to our sector; including the need for a comprehensive risk assessment to identify land to be retired from forestry and key recommendations surrounding a restriction on large-scale clear-fell harvesting.

“We are supportive of many of the recommendations, including collaborating with a woody debris taskforce, and new options for the removal of debris, and we want to reiterate our support for a fair and equitable clean-up of woody debris from impacted communities as well.

“The report is fulsome, and it’s detailed – and we are grateful for the panel’s work.”

“It is clear that in some places, we need to change what we do with our land, particularly the highest-risk hillsides, with skeletal soils that are most at risk of failure.  Cyclone Gabrielle caused damage to plantations and associated landscapes at levels not previously seen inside forestry gates, and the extent of debris movement from the collapse of younger-aged trees during recent storms is unprecedented.

“While the extremely vulnerable soils are widely acknowledged as a challenge unique to our region, the increasingly severe storms we are experiencing are not, and yet they are becoming more common. Clearly, it is time to reassess how we use some of our land,” Mr Hope said.

EWC will continue to consider the report and the range of recommendations made by the panel in the coming days.