4.3.a Proportion of forest management activities that meet best management practices, or other relevant legislation, to protect water related resources

Rationale

This indicator provides information about the extent to which water resources have been identified and safeguarded during forest management. This indicator is primarily concerned with activities that may affect riparian zones, water quality, quantity and flow rather than the designation of land for water-related conservation. The protection of water resources and associated forest and aquatic ecosystems is vital for the human populations dependent on them.

Current state

The New Zealand Government issued a National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management in 2011 and amendments in 2014 that provide direction to local government on the management of water resources.

Legislative mechanisms through the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and the Forests Act 1949 relate to activities that may affect riparian zones, and water quality and quantity. The area of planted forest certified by the Forest Stewardship Council has increased to 61 percent of the estate.

Resource Management Act 1991

A National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management was issued by the Government under the RMA in 2011, and amended in 2014.

The National Policy Statement directs regional councils to consider specific matters (including the setting of objectives, policies and rules) about fresh water when they are developing regional plans for fresh water. The councils are required to gather water quality and quantity information on water bodies to assess their current state and decide the water quality objectives.

All forest management activities that may affect riparian zones, and water quality, quantity and flow are subject to the requirements of the RMA. Local authority plans prepared under the RMA deal with issues relating to water quality and quantity, and may include rules relating to riparian areas, set-backs for planted forests, requirements for stream and river crossings, the classification of rivers and streams according to their values and requirements for water monitoring.

The discussion on the RMA under Indicator 4.2.a is also relevant to the protection of water resources.

Forests Act 1949

Landowners and forest managers seeking approvals for sustainable forest management plans and permits on privately owned indigenous forest land must comply with Part 3A of the Forests Act 1949. The Act is administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), which considers water values in their processes.

The fifth edition of MPI’s Standards and Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Indigenous Forests was published in 2013. The Standards and Guidelines reflect the statutory requirements under Part 3A of the Forests Act 1949 and include a criterion and standards with indicators relating to water quality. These include the protection of permanent stream beds and stream margins.

Environmental Code of Practice and Forest Road Engineering Manual
Indicator 4.2.a discusses the New Zealand Environmental Code of Practice for Plantation Forestry and the New Zealand Forest Road Engineering Manual. Water quality values and issues are covered in most of the Best Environmental Management Practices under the Code and through the information in the Manual.

With respect to riparian management, the New Zealand Environmental Code of Practice states that a minimum setback from planting of 5 metres is generally recognised as appropriate for small, permanently flowing streams, while wider widths are often established on the margins of wetlands and geothermal areas or adjacent to larger streams and rivers.

Forest certification

Most large-scale planted forest owners in New Zealand have international Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. The area certified accounts for 61 percent of the planted forest estate. Certification provides an independent and credible guarantee that the products come from forests that have been managed in accordance with FSC Principles and Criteria. In FSC terms, this certification verifies that the forest products come from responsibly managed forests.

FSC Principles 6, 9 and 10 all include criteria that relate to the management of water resources.

See Indicator 4.2.a for data on the area of forests with FSC certification, the preparation of a New Zealand standard for FSC endorsement, and the expectation that endorsement under the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification will be sought for standard NZS AS 4708:2014 Sustainable Forest Management.

Trends

Since 2008, in addition to the National Policy Statement, further sections have been included in the New Zealand Environmental Code of Practice for Plantation Forestry and a revised edition of the Standards and Guidelines for the Sustainable Management of Indigenous Forests has been published. Both publications address the protection of water resources.

Trend Status

Data Quality M

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