Investigating the Regional Variation in Rules and Best Management Practices for Forestry in New Zealand
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Forestry Science
Under the Resource Management Act 1991, the interpretation and implementation of environmental policy is primarily the responsibility of local government. The management of forestry operations may be influenced via two written means: statutory rules published in regional and district plans, and recommended best management practices (BMPs) published in guidelines. There are concerns that inconsistency between jurisdictions’ regulations have a negative impact on the forestry industry; both in terms of cost and achieving positive environmental outcomes. This research has investigated and quantified the variation in Permitted Activity rules and BMPs between the sixteen Regional Councils of New Zealand, with a focus on culvert installation and earthworks. This research quantified variation on both a national scale and between neighbouring councils. A peer review exercise was carried out to test the possible subjectivity of results, and found that an expert panel largely agreed with the results produced. It has been found that there is significant variation in these regional rules and BMPs. Variation in both the level of control, i.e., the number of rules and BMPs per council, and the nature of control, i.e., the proportion of rules or BMPs utilised, is considerable. Further, the rules and BMPs of one council are seldom the same as another. This variation is apparent on both a national scale and when considering only neighbouring pairs of councils. The findings on levels of variation between councils show that the variation is high, given that the parameters of this research excluded rules and BMPs which pertained to areas of special significance or value. As only ‘general’ rules and BMPs were examined, one would expect variation between councils to be low. The results, however, indicate that there is only limited agreement between Regional Councils. New Zealand’s resource management rules and policies regarding plantation forestry are currently under review. By highlighting the existing regional variation, this research may help to promote the need for a more consistent and effective approach to the regulation of forestry operations.