Assessment of New Zealand's Forest Codes of Practice for Erosion and Sediment Control
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameBachelor of Forestry Science with Honours
New Zealand’s forest industry operates under several codes of practice for erosion and sediment control. Inconsistency between regional forestry regulations led industry to lobby for the Proposed National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry (PNESPF). A national code of practice may also need to be introduced to give effect to the PNESPF. This dissertation focuses on what type of code of practice should be adopted, and under what conditions. The conditions required for a code of practice to succeed in protecting the environment were identified. The ‘external’ social and legal conditions were identified through analysis of three case studies from the international primary sector, whilst the ‘internal’ conditions relating to the development, content and implementation of a code of practice were identified through review of literature. These ideal internal conditions formed the basis of the criteria used to assess New Zealand's codes. Six of New Zealand’s forest codes of practice were classified by their type, the motivation for a corporation to comply with them, and enforcing agency. The internal conditions of these codes were then assessed to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the existing documents. Overall, the codes had well-defined objectives, good planning information and clear communication. The weaknesses included regulatory approach, comprehensiveness, foundation (particularly stakeholder involvement), monitoring information and review process. The proposed national code of practice, if introduced, should be a prescriptive code. A prescriptive code is better than an outcome-based code because it is difficult to prove liability for sedimentation and erosion. Compliance with a prescriptive code should be like liability insurance, so that if a corporation is fully compliant with a prescriptive code of practice, it should not be held liable for adverse environmental impacts. This is a preliminary recommendation only, as the external conditions operating in New Zealand still need to be investigated.