Iwi 'locked into' forestry linked to river damage

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Iwi have little option but to keep forestry on land handed back by the Crown, a top of the Nelson/Tasman region iwi says.

As the forestry industry faces criticism for the environmental impact of some of its operations, Ngati Koata says the structure of its settlement deal gave it little room to move.

The iwi received around 9000 ha of forestry land across Nelson and Tasman as part of the settlement on its Treaty of Waitangi claim, signed in 2012, including most of the pine plantations in Nelson's Maitai River catchment.

Tighter controls on forestry in the catchment were called for last month, after research confirmed that harvested or recently replanted pine forests were a significant source of environmentally-damaging fine sediment in the river, in line with findings from river systems in Tasman district.

Ngati Koata found itself in a very difficult position, bound by a Crown lease on the land that didn't expire for another two years, chairman of the Ngati Koata Trust Frank Hippolite said.

The iwi had entered into an agreement with the company that held the lease, Tasman Pine Forests, to replant pine forest blocks as they were harvested, otherwise Ngati Koata would have to pay the liability for carbon credits that had slumped in value, he said.

"We have a choice ... we either replant, or we don't replant.

"Just to pay the carbon credits would take most of the money we got back in the settlement."

Carbon credits given to Ngati Koata as part of the deal plunged to 14 cents a tonne in 2013, shortly after the Iwi signed the deed of settlement.

It emerged that New Zealand companies bought international credits from the Ukraine and Russia, since described by commentators as fraudulent.

Ngati Koata didn't own any forest plantations before the settlement, and said it had concerns about the environmental impacts of stripping the hills of native bush.

However, talks with Tasman Pine Forests, a subsidiary of the Japanese firm, Sumitomo Forestry NZ, had been positive, Hippolite said.

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Source: Nelson Mail

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