The beech scheme


A state-owned enterprise, Timberlands West Coast Ltd. (TWC), proposed to sustainably manage beech forests on 0.1 million hectares of New Zealand's 2.8 million hectare beech forest estate. The scheme was to be reviewed by a Resource Management Act (RMA) commission hearing to establish whether or not it was sustainable in terms of the RMA, a scrutiny that would have been pivotal for the granting of a resource consent.

 The New Zealand Labour Party adopted a policy against the scheme during September 1999, just weeks prior to gaining power (in coalition with the Alliance party) in a general election. Mr Jim Sutton, Labour party spokesman on forestry, immediately resigned his spokesmanship, and will no longer correspond on forestry matters.

 One of the first acts of our new Labour/Alliance government was to make TWC withdraw its application for consent for the beech scheme. This was achieved by removing sustainable beech management from TWC's mission statement. The action delighted some environmental groups, but dismayed other environmental groups and resource management professionals.

 Sustainable development and use of the biosphere is a key to the future of humanity, and the question of whether the project was sustainable and desirable is important in this context. In the interests of promoting discussion, this site presents submissions to the RMA hearing along with press releases that have appeared since the RMA consent request was withdrawn.

 The site contains material that largely supports the beech scheme. Submissions from professionals and scientists overwhelmingly supported the proposal, with the exception of one Landcare submission that was based on a flawed piece of forest growth modelling software (see refereed journal paper ), and another that was based on the impacts of harvesting predicted by the software.

 The site will be updated from day to day as new sources of information become available, so press reload if this is not your first access.

 Details of the scheme were loaded on MAF's website until recently. There is still a copy available here.

Submissions to the RMA hearing

Forest ecology, from former NFAC member
Beech forest ecology, from a Landcare scientist
Forest growth modelling
Soil nutrients
Sustainable management
Royal Society submission - part A, part B

Press releases



Summary of public submissions

Other sites relating to the issue

Click here for my personal opinions. Bear in mind when you read them that I have opposed every previous scheme to log our native forests that I have encountered, even travelling to Okarito with NFAC members in 1974 to speak against the "selection" logging of rimu forests there.

Return to Euan Mason's home page

NB: Contents of this beech scheme site do not necessarily represent the official views of the University of Canterbury