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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (2020) 65(3): 3–9
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Professional Paper
Major environmental law reform affecting the plantation forestry sector

Chris Fowler *,1 and Meg Buddle 2

1 Partner, Adderley Head. Corresponding author:
2 Solicitor, Adderley Head
*Corresponding author.

Abstract: This paper discusses three major changes that are occurring to the way natural and physical resources are managed in New Zealand. These are the package of freshwater reforms recently announced by the Government, the proposed national direction for indigenous biodiversity and, most significantly, the proposed overhaul of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). The freshwater reform package is intended to achieve a paradigm shift regarding freshwater management. There is tension between the new regime that is intended to be implemented locally by regional councils and the objective of national consistency embodied in the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF). Failure to resolve this tension raises the prospect of multiple planning processes as each regional council seeks to establish new water quality standards for freshwater bodies within their respective regions. This would present a real challenge for the forestry sector and could lead to fragmentation of the NES-PF. The proposed national direction for indigenous biodiversity as currently worded will lead to new regulation designed to manage the potential adverse effects of harvesting activities on indigenous biodiversity. Such regulation could potentially impose significant additional costs on the forestry sector. The Resource Management Review Panel has released its report on resource management reform. It recommends significant and wide-ranging changes to our current resource management law and processes (Resource Management Review Panel, 2020). Key recommendations include repealing and replacing the RMA with three new enactments, and combining and replacing regional and district plans with a single plan for each region. Overall, the Panel recommendations appear to be favourable for the forestry sector.
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