Flooding and logging -Homepaddock wonders if there’s one rule for forestry and another for the rest of us

Homepaddock reports – 

Friends who farm inland from Gisborne have lost power and their roads are impassable.

The damage is worse than it would otherwise have been because forestry slash has been washed down rivers.

A Tairāwhiti resident says her home would not have flooded if it wasn’t for a sea of logs that blocked a nearby river during heavy rain.

The region has been battered by heavy rain as cyclone Hale passed down the country, and was put in a state of emergency on Tuesday evening.

Linda Gough, who lives inland in Tolaga Bay next to the Mangatokerau River, says she was keeping an eye on the banks on Tuesday evening as the rain was pelting down.

At about 9.30pm it was high tide, and Gough said the river banks looked high, but not like they were going to breach. She felt at ease.

But then, logs started drifting downstream.

Continue reading “Flooding and logging -Homepaddock wonders if there’s one rule for forestry and another for the rest of us”

Whakatane Paper Mill to box on after sale to consortium ensures against closure and the loss of 210 jobs

A fresh start  for  the Whakatane  Paper Mill opens  a  new  era   for  the  forest  products  industry.

The mill,  which its  previous owners  Switzerland-based SIG Combibloc AG said  would be closed  this  month with the  loss of 210  jobs,  has  been sold to a  consortium led  by European investor  Dr  Dermot Smurfit  and including  the  NZ  company Direct Capital headed  by financier Ross George.

At  the time  SIG announced the  closure it said there was no buyer for the mill and no viable option was found.

The mill is Whakatane’s largest private employer and has, for more than 80 years, produced paper and packaging products, mostly for export. Continue reading “Whakatane Paper Mill to box on after sale to consortium ensures against closure and the loss of 210 jobs”

$1.69m goes to Maori landowners for tree planting (and the govt will be hoping for a harvest of votes)

The Government has made another pitch for the Maori vote (presumably with borrowed money) by dipping into the One Billion Trees trough.

It has proclaimed it is backing Maori landowners with this contribution to their wellbeing (and the environment’s) and it is fair to suppose it would appreciate the landowners backing it in return on election day.

Whether such backing might be  expressed in electoral support for Labour or New Zealand First is a matter for conjecture, but the announcement was made by Forestry Minister Shane Jones, a prominent and generous benefactor from the New Zealand First side of the coalition.

He announced up to $1.69 million will be provided through the One Billion Trees programme to Māori landowners to make their land more productive through the planting of forests, “both native and exotic”, and improve economic and environmental outcomes.

Around 1.5 million ha of land in New Zealand is in Māori ownership, Jones pointed out, but large tracts are returning little direct commercial value to Māori landowners, “nor much in the way of positive climate, soil, water or biodiversity outcomes”.

So what have the owners done to this land to rob it of positive climate, soil, water or biodiversity outcomes? Or did the land never generate much of those environmental benefits? Continue reading “$1.69m goes to Maori landowners for tree planting (and the govt will be hoping for a harvest of votes)”

Commodity export prices provide some cheer, even for those downcast Fonterra farmer-suppliers

NZ lamb export prices have hit their highest level since 1982. That mightn’t be good news if you are contemplating a roast leg of lamb for the barbecue this weekend.

But for NZ meat producers that, and the high prices being earned in markets like Japan for beef, suggest it’ll be a good season for NZ’s meat producers.

This is despite the global uncertainty stemming from trade wars particularly between China and the US, two of NZ’s main markets. The outbreak of swine fever in China is likely to sustain demand for other meat such as beef.

Continue reading “Commodity export prices provide some cheer, even for those downcast Fonterra farmer-suppliers”

Mangatu is “thriving” – but hey, Jones has got to invest our money somewhere so let’s give them a fillip anyway

Its businesses are “thriving”, according to the Mangatu Maori Incorporation website.

That was before Shane Jones’ arrival in the Gisborne region this week to distribute several million dollars of public money – among other recipients, to the thriving Mangatu Maori Incorporation.

He invited other Maori – sorry, he encouraged other Maori – to have a lick at the rich swill he is providing through the One Billion Trees Programme:

 ” … I am encouraging more Māori to come forward to partner with the Government through this initiative,” Shane Jones said.

The One Billion Trees Fund, launched in November 2018,  offers grants to landowners – particularly Māori and farmers – to encourage integration of trees into existing land use.

“It will create economic, social and environmental benefits and support Maori to realise the potential of their land.”

Having plenty of your own money should not be an impediment to applying, it seems.

The Mangatu incorporation’s website gives a measure of what “thriving” means.

The latest financial results we could find there were for the year to September 30 2017.

These show a net profit before tax of $13.9m (compared with $18.6m the previous year) and net assets of $193.6m (up from  $183m).
Continue reading “Mangatu is “thriving” – but hey, Jones has got to invest our money somewhere so let’s give them a fillip anyway”

Log prices tumble in China: don’t panic, says Peters, but he concedes it is “concerning”

A sharp fall in  the  price  which Chinese importers  are paying  for  New Zealand logs could puncture the  boom in  the forestry  trade.  In  the year  to April, the value of log  exports to  China   rose  to  $2.5bn, or  $514M  higher than in the previous 12  months.

But  Deputy  PM Winston Peters   says  there’s  no need to  panic—even though the  fall  is  “concerning”.

Radio  NZ   reports the problem stems from logs sitting on the wharves at ports in China,  and not being despatched to construction projects inland.

The latest fall, which happened in a matter of weeks, brought log prices down by 15% on a take- it-or-leave-it basis demanded by Chinese log importers. Continue reading “Log prices tumble in China: don’t panic, says Peters, but he concedes it is “concerning””

The Trough Monitor: oh, look – new ‘opportunities’ for tree planting grants

Another alert has been sounded by the Point of Order Trough Monitor, this time drawing attention to the establishment of yet another trough and a rich swill.

News of this trough was announced in a press statement from Forestry Minister Shane Jones – fast becoming the Lord High Bestower of Beehive Beneficence – and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

Today they launched the One Billion Trees Fund, describing it as a crucial step toward achieving the goal of planting at least one billion trees by 2028.

The headline on their press statement is telling:  One Billion Trees Fund offers new opportunities.

Dipping opportunities.

Continue reading “The Trough Monitor: oh, look – new ‘opportunities’ for tree planting grants”

Weeds need pulling in the Far North, if Donna wants to do something about climate change

While Shane Jones was filling Point of Order’s email in-tray with a flurry of handout announcements, the grandly titled Māori Climate Commissioner was bleating about  Māori and their land being inadequately treated in the formulation of climate change policy.

Māori Climate Commissioner” is a title which rings with Wellington and officialdom.

Actually it is the creation of a private carbon trading operation called the Māori Carbon Foundation, an organisation  which says it offers

… carbon planting solutions to all landowners, and we are particularly excited about the economic and social benefits that are offered to Māori landowners from participating in the MCF planting programme

But when its Māori Climate Commissioner criticised the Minister for Climate Change and his Interim Climate Change Committee for “treating Māori concerns in a superficial fashion”, the dust had not yet settled on the matter of 1 million or so seedlings bought to plant in Northland to kick off the One Billion Trees programme.

A Māori trust and Māori land loomed large in the story. Continue reading “Weeds need pulling in the Far North, if Donna wants to do something about climate change”

Forestry reappraisal triggers memories of a time when NZ was a world leader

Export log prices  have  climbed to their  highest level in  25 years, reaching  $135 a  tonne, according to  reports  this week.  It’s a  boom  which authorities believe will not be shortlived,  because  local mills  are  having to compete hard  to secure supply  for the domestic  construction market against exporters seeking to meet strong demand from China.

Forestry may have had a  bad rap  as  a  result of  recent floods  which have  deposited  large  quantities of  wood on farms and  beaches on the  East  Coast. It’s an industry, however, which  employs  20,000 people  and  annually is worth about  $5bn, or about  3% of GDP.

The industry’s future is being reappraised, partly because of the NZ First initiative  to   promote the  planting  of 1bn  trees,  but also partly  because other  pillars of  the  country’s  export  framework—dairying, for  example—face  the implications of  reaching “peak cow”  (as  Primary Industries  Minister Damian  O’Connor puts it).

In  seeking to  regenerate  enthusiasm for  forestry,  the  Minister of Forests,  Shane  Jones,  in effect has to  start from scratch, re-establishing  a  ministry  (in Rotorua)  and  rebuilding  the   expertise in  silviculture  for which  NZ  was once renowned.

Paradoxically it was a  Labour government which abolished  the Forestry Ministry that had been responsible for  the  development  of the huge plantation  forests — in Kaingaroa, the East  Coast  and  Otago —  which  not only  supported the initiation of the export log trade, but also the  wood  processing  plants at  Kawerau  and Tokoroa, and sawmills  elsewhere.

When  the Rogernomes  entrusted  the  industry  to  “market forces”,   they in  effect  buried  the  NZ  Forestry Service’s  goal  of  making  wood products  NZ’s biggest export industry   by  2020.

With the disbanding of the ministry  NZ largely lost the fourth generation of foresters brought up by post- war figures like Bert Entrican and Lindsay  Poole,  who had helped make this country a world  leader in forestry.

They lost, too, the institutional memory behind the planting of  the Gisborne and Nelson forests on erodable land, knowing it should never have been clear-felled, an issue not in the minds of forest companies eager  to make a buck.

Branding has its place – but it’s helpful to know a Govt agency’s purpose

The headline on a press statement from the Government refers to the launch of a “new forestry scholarship”. This no doubt recognises that most of those who read it prefer to communicate in English,

The first sentence of the statement similarly says a new forestry scholarship has been launched at National Fieldays today by Forestry Ministers Shane Jones and Meka Whaitiri.

The new scholarship aims to grow the capability of the forestry sector and increase the number of women and Māori in the industry.

Then the statement adopts a practice that has the effect of obscuring what a department or programme actually does in favour of “branding” by giving it a Maori name:

Continue reading “Branding has its place – but it’s helpful to know a Govt agency’s purpose”