Court action better than vigilante tactics

06/09/2012

Conservationists are considering taking legal action to stop landowners planting Douglas fir plantations on the Lammermoor Range.

The plantations for carbon credits are on a private farm at the site of Meridian Energy’s planned Project Hayes wind farm which was cancelled after the Environment Court ruled the area was a nationally important landscape.

Wilding trees – mostly pines and firs – are a significant problem in several areas of the South Island high country and the conservationists’ concern is understandable. But if plantations are surrounded by a buffer zone of other trees and grazing land there should be little risk of seeds blowing on to conservation areas.

The landowners have already gone through years in limbo waiting for the lengthy process which preceded the decision to can plans for the wind farm. Now they might face more expense and delays through court action.

But at least these conservationists are proposing to take the legal way and not talking about vigilante tactics as others concerned about Douglas Firs did last month.


Wild threats no response to wilding threat

01/08/2012

Forest Owners are justifiably dismayed at the suggestion Sir Alan Mark might assemble a group of activists to rip out forest seedlings on a farm near Dunedin.

Forest Owners are justifiably dismayed at the suggestion Sir Alan Mark might assemble a group of activists to rip out forest seedlings on a farm near Dunedin.
“It’s one thing for the professor to be a passionate advocate for environmental causes. It’s quite another to threaten vigilante action and to incite trespass,” says FOA Environment Committee chair Peter Weir.
The farm, Waipori Station, is owned by Landcorp. Sir Alan’s concern is Douglas-firs planted as a carbon forest on a 189 block neighbouring Te Papanui Conservation Park and the Stony Creek Scenic Reserve.
Sir Alan is fearful that wilding Douglas-fir will spread through these important tussock land reserves from seeds blown from the plantation. It is an issue he is passionate about. Sir Alan led a major campaign to remove wildling pines from thousands of hectares at Mid-Dome in Southland and has previously helped Landcorp remove wildling pines from Waipori Station.
He told Radio New Zealand yesterday that he might lead a group to the site to remove the trees if Landcorp will not.
Mr Weir says higher rainfall areas of the South Island high country are very good for growing Douglas-fir. It produces high value timber, much preferred for building in Otago and Southland, and is ideal for carbon sequestration.
“It is unfortunate that Landcorp is being criticised for addressing their on-farm greenhouse gas emissions in such a productive way. It’s also unfortunate that the proposed National Environmental Standard (NES) for Plantation Forestry has yet to get approval from government, because it includes a wilding risk calculator that drives rules for afforestation,” he says
“If the NES were in effect then the rules around afforestation would be much clearer for all land owners.
“Yes, there is a risk of wildling spread. But this can be mitigated by planting a Ponderosa pine buffer zone around the Douglas-fir, surrounded in turn by grazing land. Any seeds that do escape and grow into young trees are then easily controlled before they start producing cones. There is a 10 year window to eradicate any escapees before they produce fertile seeds.”
He says these form a suite of good forest management practices for forestry in the high country and have been adopted by Landcorp.
“Land owners have the right to plant forests, so long as they manage them responsibly,” Mr Weir says
“For a respected person like Sir Alan to suggest a planted forest be ripped out fills us with dismay. It’s not as if high country forestry is a new issue, or that he has exhausted all his legal options … not that this would justify vigilante action anyway.”
Wilding trees are a significant concern in the South Island high country but the risk of them spreading from forests is one that can be managed.
The threat of vigilante action at any time is unacceptable. In this case it is even more extreme when Landcorp appears to have a management plan which will ensure there isn’t a problem with the spread of wilding firs.
Radio NZ has more here.

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