Swamp kauri rules strengthened

Date:
Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is making changes to swamp kauri rules which will improve transparency, clarity and oversight of the law.

The Ministry’s director spatial, forestry and land management, Aoife Martin, says there is already strong regulatory oversight of swamp kauri and the new measures will continue to ensure that operators are playing by the rules.

“Overall it will mean that MPI and regional councils get more detailed information from operators at every stage of the process.”

The environmental effects of swamp kauri extraction are controlled by the Resource Management Act through local council plans. Under the proposed changes all operators will inform councils of any and all extraction activity, regardless of where it takes place and whether or not it needs a resource consent.

The Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, MPI officials, and the Northland Regional Council Chairman, Bill Shepherd, met today in Whangarei to discuss how they could improve information sharing to provide better oversight of the entire supply chain - from extraction through to milling and export.

Mr Shepherd, says that swamp kauri is an important economic resource for Northland and any extraction should ensure that job opportunities and economic benefits are realised by Northland and its communities.

“Having reviewed our systems and process we are confident that they are robust. We’ve agreed to increased collaboration and information sharing with MPI to ensure efficient and effective end-to-end management of this resource.”

Mr Shepherd says the regional council has good working relationships with operators, and maintains a record of all current swamp kauri extraction contractors.

“We’ll continue to provide clear advice to operators about the extraction requirements they have to meet. These changes will improve the information flow right across the chain from extraction to export,” he says.

A key change for MPI will be the requirement for more detailed information about the volume and origin of swamp kauri timber seeking milling approval, says Ms Martin.

“As part of the milling approval process we will physically inspect all extraction sites to be absolutely sure that we know the origin of the timber. If the timber has been sourced from a site with indigenous vegetation, the inspection will make sure we know that the natural values of that site have been maintained. MPI will have an additional warranted forestry officer based in Northland to assist with these inspections.

“Reporting requirements at export will also be increased so that MPI is advised of all export consignments from swamp kauri businesses and their associated companies. All exports of swamp kauri will be visually inspected to ensure they are within the rules.

“MPI will continue to work with the swamp kauri operators to make sure they have a clear understanding of the rules. Under the changes, MPI will also assist companies to ensure their products are accurately advertised on overseas websites so that any confusion is avoided.

“International advertisements will continue to be regularly monitored and action will be taken when advertisements are misleading or where they indicate a business could be breaking the rules.

“We understand people are interested in the sale of swamp kauri, so to increase transparency MPI is publishing quarterly reports of all our swamp kauri regulatory activity.”

Industry member Nelson Parker welcomed the changes.

“We’ve got clear rules in place to manage the extraction, milling and export of swamp kauri, rules that I’ve built my business of nearly 25 years around. There’ll always be room for improvement. These changes, which provide more clarity and transparency to swamp kauri businesses, government and the public.”

Summary of changes

  • Operators will take steps to ensure compliance with the laws around the management of swamp kauri by:
    • pre-notifying the Northland Regional Council (NRC) of plans to extract
    • reporting the volume of swamp kauri extracted to the Northland Regional Council.
    • notifying MPI of all finished products for export approval.
  • The Northland Regional Council is working to implement the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and to review of the Northland Regional Water and Soil Plan giving the Council and the local community the opportunity to review the existing management of swamp kauri extraction activities under the Resource Management Act.
  • MPI is expanding the collection of data relating to milling and export by introducing swamp-kauri-specific forms for milling and export.
  • MPI will expand its inspection processes around applications to mill swamp kauri timber and to export swamp kauri timber.
  • The existing 100% visual export inspections of all notified swamp kauri exports will be supplemented with the inspection of the excavation sites of every milling statement application.
  • Additional MPI staff will be based in Whangarei to support the new measures.
  • MPI will publish quarterly reports of regulatory activities under the Forests Act relating to swamp kauri.
  • All previously released Official Information Act reponses, going back to July 2012, are now available on the MPI website www.mpi.govt.nz
  • MPI will continue to monitor overseas trading sites and identify potential issues of non-compliance with the Forests Act and ensure accuracy in the advertising of their products.

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