NZ Herald on West Coast logging

July 6th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The Government ensured some good will come from nature’s devastation when, under urgency, it passed the West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Act. This was necessary because the Conservation Act makes no provision for timber recovery in such a circumstance. Notably, Labour’s West Coast MP Damien O’Connor and Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirakatene supported the legislation, going against their party’s stand.

They could not convince other Labour MPs that the interests of the West Coast should take precedence over support for the position taken by the Greens.

The policy differences between Greens and Labour shrink by the day as Labour moves left.

Their stand was right. Conservationists have some qualms about the logging of the high-value trees, especially in terms of the removal of vital nutrients from the forest ecosystem. But it is surely possible to take logs without seriously disturbing the biomass. Indeed, removing some of the trees will probably aid regeneration. Additionally, the legislation contains enough safeguards to suggest appropriate care will be taken.

It’s a win-win. Helps the forest regenerate, and creates jobs.

Cyclone Ita felled an estimated 20,000ha of forest and caused significant damage to a further 200,000ha. In all probability, only a small part of that will be removed. Nonetheless, hundreds of jobs will be created both in the logging and the processing of the timber. That, and the safeguards, mean the public good associated with exploitation far outweighs any concerns about the impact of the logging.

Nor is the protection of native forest being compromised. That Labour and the Greens declined to see as much suggested they were concerned about more than just the felled timber. Several references to the conservation battles that culminated in a halt to the logging of these forests confirmed as much. Probably, they worried that the exploitation of the timber without dire consequence being the cue for the resumption of selective logging.

There is no suggestion of that. Felled timber is being removed from low-grade conservation land for a limited period. Nothing more. This is surely a practical response to an event dictated by nature, and one that benefits one of the country’s least prosperous regions.

It is a practical response. Very sad that Labour joined the Greens in opposing what is pretty common sense.

16 Responses to “NZ Herald on West Coast logging”

  1. CharlieBrown (1,768 comments) says:

    “The policy differences between Greens and Labour shrink by the day as Labour moves left.”

    That is because the policy difference between Helens Labour government and John Key’s national government has shrunk to nothing. Labour only had room to move further left or to the right of national, unfortunately they went left.

    And stop using the term common sense… common sense does not equal good sense. Common sense often leads to mass hysteria.

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  2. Southern Raider (2,106 comments) says:

    Selective logging should be allowed. Just as the storm felled a large number of trees there is also native trees everyday in the conservation estate which are dead or close to it and should be removed under the same logic.

    There was absolutely no logic to H1s nuclear strike on West Coast industry and it was purely a feel good response to idiots who live in Grey Lynn

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  3. dad4justice (7,896 comments) says:

    “removing some of the trees will probably aid regeneration.”

    Selective logging was working well on the West Coast before the Aunty Hell’s tree huggers shut down the native hardwood industry. Now we import hardwoods that come from forests that are clear felled. Dumb eh. The removal of dead trees can only benefit the forest and any fruit loop that argues otherwise should be in an asylum.

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  4. gump (2,346 comments) says:


    I think you’re entirely correct.

    The sad thing is that Labour could have moved right of National (as they did it in the 1980s). And probably would have found greater electoral support if they had done so.

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  5. wikiriwhis business (5,174 comments) says:

    I thought the Greens were far more left than Labour.

    This is why I would rather vote for Winston than Dotcom and his band of feminazi’s.

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  6. Other_Andy (2,678 comments) says:

    “The sad thing is that Labour could have moved right of National (as they did it in the 1980s). ”

    Not at the moment, with the man ‘bought by’ the Union’s at the helm.

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  7. adze (2,133 comments) says:

    Agreed. The recovery of whale bones following a beach stranding is also permitted, even if not for commercial reasons; it’s still a pragmatic exception to the prohibition against whaling.

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  8. mandk (2,002 comments) says:

    Two things are clear from this:
    1) Labour pretend to care for people, but they hate the idea that someone might turn an honest profit by extracting the timber.
    2) Greens hate people and they hate business.

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  9. labrator (2,461 comments) says:

    I’m fascinated by the biomass argument. If the trees weren’t knocked over by nature, what biomass levels were they adding? If it’s small to minimal, ie the leaf litter of the living tree, how does the argument that removing the windblown trees damages the biomass even stack up? It seems like a semi-scientific argument (factually there is removal of biomass) has been distorted to suit an agenda (nature is magical and humans are bad). I’m happy to be corrected by someone in the know.

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  10. adze (2,133 comments) says:


    I think the argument goes that fallen logs create an important micro-ecology for forest insects, fungi and flora, as well as nutrients for the soil.

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  11. labrator (2,461 comments) says:

    @adze Yeah, I understand that portion of the biomass argument but I don’t understand how the entire ecosystem of the forest is dependent on natural disasters. If what the Greens are saying is correct then if the trees were not blown over, there would be a biomass deficit as living trees contribute little biomass to the ecosystem. Sure, if you took every single tree that ever fell over out of the forest, then yes, you’d be reducing the available biomass considerably but that’s not what has been legalised here, or is it?

    Also, if the biomass argument is so convincing, would the Greens be happy if the equivalent biomass of the taken windfallen trees were replaced by bails of hay or mulched pine? That’s the problem with the Greens, it’s always hard to tell if they’re arguing from an ideological or environmental standpoint. Seeing as there is hardly ever a constructive alternative (it’s always do nothing) it seems to me they’re being ideological, again.

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  12. PaulL (6,059 comments) says:

    I think it’s a mistake to rule out future selective logging. Banning of selective logging in the same low value conservation estate was a bad decision. I’d like to see whole segments of the conservation estate offered for “management” by interested parties. They’d be obligated to control pests (both animal such as possums and plant such as invasive species) to a specified standard, and beyond that entitled to any business consistent with conservation.

    So they could be greenies bidding to run a section of forest. They could take donations from people who wanted to see it pristine, and they could just leave it as is (except for controlling pests).

    They could be eco tourist operators, who could put in good quality walking tracks, eco-tourism lodges (but not damaging the environment doing so – so self contained lodges), perhaps adventure tourism and the like.

    They could be hunting groups, who could provide for management of game in the area and controlled hunting of same. They’d be allowed to put in things to make it easier for fat American tourists to come and shoot a big stag or whatever.

    They could be logging groups, who’d be allowed to selectively fell trees within specified standards – density, amount of damage done in recovery etc etc.

    In short, as has been proven in Africa a few times, you need to make the conservation estate worth more when conserved than it is when exploited. That’s how you put poachers out of business too – you make the locals have a vested interest in there being elephants around.

    Of course, no chance at all of that getting off the ground in NZ.

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  13. maxwell (77 comments) says:

    Surely if the fallen trees are limbed up and only the trunks removed, the remaining branches
    and leaves would leave enough biomass ?

    And if you believe emitted carbon dioxide is really bad for Mother Gaia, wouldn’t turning all that high
    quality rimu and matai into furniture and floors be a good thing because it locks up all that evil carbon ?

    You could balance up the fossil fuels used to remove the fallen trees with the jobs created.

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  14. Maggy Wassilieff (3,644 comments) says:

    @ Labrator…. a little learning is a dangerous thing. I think the biomass /nutrient argument is specious, but doesn’t it sound convincing to those with little understanding of forest dynamics? Thirty years or so ago the Green fraternity threw out the thought that our native forests could be managed sustainably. Ever since the forests have been in a lose/lose situation for they’re not in some fabulous natural equilibrium with nature . They are in a state of disequilibrium with a host of pest species running rampant over much of the forest estate. Goodness knows how many tonnes of biomass are being consumed daily by possums, goats, rats, mice, pigs, deer, feral stock etc.

    I would much rather see sustainable timber harvest in native forests occurring along with good pest control rather than the blind neglect that our forests are currently experiencing.

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  15. labrator (2,461 comments) says:

    Thanks Maggy. I personally find the Greens’ argument on this as convincing as their Maui dolphin argument.

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  16. Rich Prick (2,911 comments) says:

    Gaia is weeping, the Greens are outraged, Delahunty wants to shag a mountain. Situation normal. The Greens will only be happy when we are all living in caves looking at ancient drawings of fire to keep warm.

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