Forestry NES is about protecting the environment

13 August 2015

The National Environmental Standard on Plantation Forestry is about rules for planting, managing and harvested trees that are aligned to the actual level of erosion, wilding pine or fish spawning. Not on which side of some arbitrary local government boundary you are on, environment minister Nick Smith told the Environmental Defence Society's conference in Auckland.

"A key problem with the Resource Management Act is that there has been too little central government direction on major issues. We are stepping up our programme of National Policy Statements, National Environmental Standards and national guidance to get better environmental results at less cost," Dr Smith said.

Dr Smith today released the Ministries for the Environment and Primary Industries' new guide on implementing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

"The guide released today is part of the Government's commitment to providing support for regions to implement the Government's new policy on freshwater. It recognises the role of communities in making decisions about their freshwater resources, and it has been designed to assist local authorities to make more consistent decisions based on better evidence," Dr Smith says.

"This guidance builds on work already carried out, requiring water metering, our support for the work of the Land and Water Forum, and the five-fold increase in Government funding for freshwater clean-ups. We will be consulting on further steps to improve freshwater management following engagements with iwi leaders and the Land and Water Forum."

Dr Smith also outlined the Government's forward programme of national direction under the Resource Management Act, which is supported by the additional $20 million funding announced in Budget 2015. Proposed National Policy Statements are being considered for urban development, aquaculture, biodiversity and natural hazards.

New National Environmental Standards are being proposed for telecommunications facilities, plantation forestry, pest control, air quality and contaminated soils. In the guide, the Ministry for the Environment says the NES for Plantation Forestry is expected to become law in 2016.

"There is a huge amount of work ahead with each of these initiatives. The purpose in outlining this programme is to start the process of consultation with key sector groups on how we can use these tools to make our system of resource management work better," Dr Smith says.

"New Zealand is too small a country to have different, complex rules across our 78 councils. We can get better environmental outcomes in areas like water quality and pest control, as well as better economic results in areas such as housing and telecommunications through stronger and clearer policies and standards."

Sources: NZ Government media release and policy documents