A Ministerial inquiry into forestry practices has been welcomed by Wairoa Mayor Craig Little.
The two-month inquiry will cover Wairoa and Tairāwhiti. It will be led by a panel that includes former government minister and Gisborne resident Hon Hekia Parata, former regional council chief executive Bill Bayfield, and forestry engineer Matthew McCloy.
The inquiry will investigate past and current land-use practices, and the impact of woody debris, including forestry slash and sediment on communities, livestock, buildings and the environment. It will also look at associated economic drivers and constraints.
Mayor Little said from Wairoa’s perspective the recent flooding from Cyclone Gabrielle was devastating enough, but it was the built-up slash and massive logs in the river that caused significant damage to infrastructure and backed up waterways.
“For years Wairoa has been requesting a review into blanket forestry planting and the impact this has on communities, from both the physical aspect and community wellbeing. An independent inquiry led by the Government is the only way our region can get definitive answers. I stress the importance of independence and really hope the inquiry gathers grass roots anecdotal evidence on what actually is happening.”
Mr Little said he appreciates that Central Government has recognised the need for an inquiry. “I am also pleased that this inquiry includes Wairoa, for years the focus has been on Tairāwhiti. The problems they have been experiencing further up the coast are the same as we are experiencing in Wairoa, but until now Wairoa has not been included in any discussions.
“My expectation is that now we will finally be listened to and the genuine concerns we have been raising with Central Government for years will be listened to, and the appropriate actions taken.
“Whatever is happening, we need to be able to accurately pinpoint the issues so we can manage change and move forward. We are living in a very volatile environment. It is ironic that over thirty years ago as part of the recovery from Cyclone Bola landowners were advised to plant trees to reduce slipping and erosion. Now the repercussions of some of that response appear to be creating bigger problems with slash in our waterways. We look forward to the findings of this inquiry.”
Photo caption: Slash left around the Opoiti Bridge on the Tiniroto Road in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle.
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24 February 2023
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