New Zealand Journal of Forestry (1998) 43(1): 13–16
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry
Sustainable management of indigenous forests in New Zealand
The New Zealand Government's Indigenous' Forest Policy Goal is "to maintain or enhance New Zealand's indigenous forests in perpetuity". To accord with the policy, the Forests Act 1949 was amended in 1993 to provide for the sustainable management of native forests. The main change is that the Act now requires landowners who wish to harvest and mill native timber to have a registered sustainable forest management plan or permit.
The Act defines sustainable management as "the management of an area of indigenous forest land in a way that maintains the ability of the forest growing on that land to continue to provide a full range of products and amenities in perpetuity while retaining the forest's natural values".
Four years have now gone into developing a management system that promises to fulfil ecological, economic and social criteria for native forests. The system aims to retain and ultimately enhance native forests through ecological silviculture. Much of New Zealand's existing native forest possesses the main structural attributes to practise single-tree or group selection systems by low-impact harvesting.
The management system engages the principles of harvesting annual or periodic growth increment, maintenance of species and age-class integrity, and regeneration, of New Zealand's mainly beech and podocarp forests. It covers the system of documentation and monitoring, and research development, e.g. helicopter and cable harvesting, single-tree and
small group extraction, and our prediction is for the success of near-natural silviculture in New Zealand.
The central theme of this paper is that ecologically sustainable, economically viable and formalised management of about 650, OOO ha of New Zealand native forest, for timber production, is realistic.