A sustainable vision for forestry in Tairāwhiti

A sustainable vision for forestry in Tairāwhiti

01 December 2023

Eastland Wood Council chair Warren Rance has told Gisborne District Council the two organisations can work together effectively and in a mature way to deliver sustainable forestry.

“But it will be a bumpy ride for a few years. It will be tough.”

Mr Rance was speaking yesterday to the full council sitting as Sustainable Tairāwhiti.

He thanked the council for a letter recently received from chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann which suggested the two could work together in an effective and mature manner.

The letter had been well received by the industry — locally and nationwide.

He had noticed a massive change in the atmosphere with the council.

Mr Rance said he hoped that soon he would never again have to visit the council.

“We are part of the problem and a massive part of the solution.”

Mr Rance was emotional at times.

“I don’t sleep very well. Since 2018, the rain is not our friend anymore, and it’s quite sad.

“If it is raining when I go to bed, I need to take a pill to sleep.

“If I wake up and its raining, I need to take another pill to sleep.”

Mr Rance said that last Sunday he went “to the bridge” after the heavy rain.

He was glad to see only one piece of cut wood trapped under the bridge.

The reality was that woody debris would continue to come down the rivers, he said.

“Some of it is our fault. That is why I went to the bridge.”

The amount of such wood was significantly reducing, he said, but there would continue to be damage to infrastructure, people would continue to be afraid to sleep, there would be continued aggregation of rivers and inherent risk of flooding.

Mr Rance said the trees had been planted for all the right reasons.

But they had been possibly planted inaccurately or without being well thought through, or had been planted during a short period of time.

That amount of wood was unsustainable.

It would take more than one rotation — 25 to 30 years — to get that wood sustainable from a roading perspective and a people perspective.

The trees got so big that they fell over.

The forestry industry had made massive changes since 2018 but had not had many opportunities to show the steep change in operational improvements, Mr Rance said.

“Hopefully that will change from today.”

He invited councillors to visit forests to see the improvements for themselves.