New Zealand Journal of Forestry (1988) 32(4): 13–18
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry
Multiple-use indigenous forestry on West Coast of South Island
A. J. Tilling
Multiple-use forestry has been "officially" regarded as the essence of New Zealand State forestry for nearly half a century. However, the underlying reason for adopting the multiple-use concept as a central pillar of State forest management was never clearly spelt out. Misconceptions crept in, especially the idea that timber production was an essential component of forestry and that national parks were gazetted for a single use. This bias is still prevalent today and is a contributory reason for the confrontation between two groups (for convenience labelled "foresters" and "conservationists") over the use of "lowland" podocarp forests on the West Coast. Many foresters (and others too) now lament the "locking-up" of many of these resources in national parks and reserves, without ackowledging that these functional arrangements express particular, legitimate societal values and where, nevertheless, multiple-use management principles have and will continue to have a role. These perceptions raise questions about the definition of "multiple-use" and its application; indeed even of "forestry" itself, and the term "production" and the often quoted remedy for conflict situations, "balanced use". As the setting of priorities is necessary when making a decision on the allocation of resources to meet different needs and values, there is ample scope for argument and conflict. These can be expected to continue on the West Coast. The resolution of differences though is inherently a socio-political process, involving value judgements and is not merely a technocratic!professional task. This should not absolve policy makers and resource managers commissioning and undertaking the necessary research and presenting realistic options for public debate.