Aratu Forests introduces riparian scheme

Wednesday 7 Apr 2021

Aratu Forests introduces riparian scheme – Aratu Forests, one of New Zealand’s ten largest freehold forest plantations, has today announced an industry-first, 90-year ‘right to plant’ land management agreement with sustainable land-use company, eLandNZ – with the backing of the Gisborne District Council.

The scheme has been under development for two years and is set to create a permanent native forest buffer alongside waterways within Aratu Forests. In May ground will be broken as part of a community launch event involving Iwi, community groups and the Gisborne District Council.

eLandNZ’s Managing Director, Sheldon Drummond, says: “The 90-year agreement for mixed land use within Aratu Forests will see eLandNZ progressively manage revegetation of streamside buffers within the Aratu Forests estate that are unsuitable for timber plantation.

“In the first 25-years the project will establish a permanent streamside native forest with primary species planted including manuka, belts of larger native trees in higher areas and flax in flood zones. “The specific environmental improvements will include greater biodiversity, improved water quality and reduce offsite wood debris movement during any future flood event,” says Drummond.

“Community expectation on improved environmental management of our land and waterways requires the forest industry to be thinking long-term while also taking action today. We are confident this project will pioneer a new standard for sustainable forestry practices, which can be replicated across other fragile forestry environments,” he adds.

In the first year of the agreement approximately 170 hectares of the Aratu Forests estate will be prepared for planting, which will kick start from May.

Aratu Forests Chief Executive, Neil Woods, says: “With the full support of our Board, we are voluntarily investing in this initiative because it is the right thing to do, and stands to deliver long-term benefits for the environment, the community and our company.

“eLandNZ has a proven track record in sustainable land management, having successfully delivered a number of projects throughout New Zealand. We like how the partnership has been established to this point – patiently, openly and collaboratively.

Ūawanui Environmental Sustainability Project spokesperson, Victor Walker, says: “Our iwi and community, including our schools have been facilitating meetings to discuss environmental remediation and the impacts of the woody debris and flooding on our community in numerous forums for over a decade. These have been challenging times. The community hui at Reynolds Hall in Uawa, after the floods in 2018, was a touchstone for a highly connected approach to explore proactive solutions for what was required to keep our waterways and coastlines pristine and our community safe.

“The pilot riparian native forest scheme is another touchstone in the journey towards future proofing the ‘kaitiekitanga (custodianship)’ of our catchment and the legacy of environmental sustainability that we will leave behind for our mokopuna. Ūawanui acknowledges the training and employment pathways that the industry provides and is optimistic that the project will also help build relationships to create opportunities for increased intergenerational wellness and prosperity.

Tara Strand, General Manager Forest and Landscapes at Scion says: “Scion is excited to support this long -term initiative to bring the health and wellbeing (the mauri) back to the forest and community. Establishment of these permanent forests enables us to better understand how forests help to mitigate flooding, lock soil and improve water quality, biodiversity, soil health and ultimately the wellbeing of the people.”

Mr Woods adds: “As more forestry owners become more proactive in activities that facilitate the environmental remediation of streamside land it will reduce costs to local and regional councils, while also assisting the Government in meeting its Paris Accord commitments through additional permanent forestry and carbon sequestration.

“This is a commercial solution to an environmental problem and there are going to be a lot of learnings for the industry as this project develops,” Woods says, “This project stands to bring our communities together and there will be opportunities for other partners to participate in the future, including to involve other forests in the region and, ultimately, across New Zealand,” he says.

To register to receive ongoing updates: www.elandnz.com/araturiparians

Source: Scoop


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