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Road running out on exploitative land use

Letter
Re: ‘Right thing to do’, April 1 story.

If it is “the right thing to do”, why is Aratu Forests committing less than half of 1 percent of the 35,000 hectares they manage to native regeneration? Clear-felling exotic forests is completely unsustainable from any angle, from soil conservation and indigenous biodiversity to waterways protection and transport emissions.

Tairawhiti needs to quickly come to terms with the reality that land use in the region is going to change dramatically and urgently if we are serious about climate and conservation commitments.

Gisborne District Council, as the local authority responsible for land and water use in the region, is asleep at the wheel again.

Trust Tairawhiti — like many local businesses — relies on the forestry industry, and too many jobs are reliant on a status quo that is rapidly running out of time.

This initiative by Aratu Forests is a great metaphor for the looming crisis the region faces. The world is rapidly changing but local leaders pretend we can somehow survive by relying on these kinds of tokenistic fiddling around the edges of the problem.

Far more resources need to be urgently dedicated to finding economically sustainable alternatives to the exploitative land use the region has relied on for the last hundred years. Permanent native cover of highly erosion-prone hillsides — estimated at something like 80 percent of land in the region — is the only option. The longer we ignore that reality, the more traumatic the transition will be.

Manu Caddie

  1. Ken Ovenden says:

    Hi Manu, great case to be put for the growing of your chosen crop. After sampling your ‘F word’ use for other’s opinion/attempt at humour then your crop is obviously the chosen one. Cover all non-native vegetative areas on the East Coast in cannabis – would you be happy then Mr Caddie?

    1. Manu Caddie says:

      Nope, Cannabis on steep erosion-prone land is not a good idea. Permanent indigenous cover is the only viable option.

  2. Will Dobbie says:

    Manu Caddie says: “Permanent native cover of highly erosion-prone hillsides — estimated at something like 80 percent of land in the region — is the only option.”

    Permanent root systems, yes, but not only NZ natives.
    There are a few exotic trees which will give the required erosion protection, and still an occasional harvest of useful timber. These are called coppicing trees: such as some eucalypts, Sequoia, some oaks, Casuarina, walnuts, plane, elm, poplar, willow, Liquidambar, alder, sycamore, Tilia, some Acacia, and Racosperma (Taz blackwood), Liriodendron, Sambucus, Paulownia, some maples.

    Most of these could be managed to hold the soil, and still supply small and large wood products for upwards of a thousand years (at enormous cost per tonne compared to clear-felled young P.radiata). Still, that may be more acceptable to some people than harvesting replanted NZ natives or of regrowth; even if using helicopters to avoid clearfelling (at more cost and fossil fuel use). Say again, that’s what peasant populations were used to doing for some thousands of years before fossil fuels suddenly took over the hardest work loads.
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/homed/garden/93097372/grow-your-own-firewood
    https://www.growingwithnature.org/what-is-coppicing/

    Again as Manu says, “finding economically sustainable alternatives” for land use is what some locals have been doing for many a year. a.k.a. cannabis sales from local grown. Other cropping is possible, but not many of them are financially rewarding enough. There are enthusiasts from bees to truffles, nutters to aromatics, ginseng to boutique porkers. Trouble is, even the enthusiasts have to afford to eat until their project covers costs, pays the rates, pays a living wage, and then pays enough to match the best alternative investment.
    So far, that is a blanket of P. radiata.

    Bring it on.
    Cheers,
    W