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Forestry mythbusting - myths, misperceptions, impacts and solutions

Authors: Tim Payn
Publication: New Zealand Journal of Forestry, Volume N.Z.J.For. 2021, Issue N.Z.J.For. 66(3) 2021, pp 8-11, Nov 2021
Publisher: New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Abstract: In the presentation I gave at the 2021 New Zealand Institute of Forestry conference in Masterton I addressed the common ‘myths’ or misperceptions about New Zealand plantation forestry, what their impacts might be, and what approaches can be taken to counter or dispel the myths. While forestry is generally recognised for its benefit to New Zealand, there are pockets of concern about environmental impacts and also the effect on communities. These are underpinned by recurring ‘myths’ that are often based on an imperfect understanding of forestry. Myths can be longstanding (for instance, the perceived negative impact of pines on soil) and these perceptions are hard to change. The impacts of these misperceptions have not been quantified, but it is likely that the greatest one is on the regulatory environment, with resulting increased regulation and potential costs of compliance. The forestry sector’s license to operate is being challenged as a result of these environmental and social concerns, regardless of how real the perceptions are. Evidence-based responses are needed to help address these challenges. There is considerable information available on the performance of the New Zealand forestry sector, but this is not always readily accessible or in a form suitable for a non-forestry audience. An ongoing campaign to inform and educate non-foresters on aspects of concern to them is needed. This should span multiple media communication channels and include laying the foundations within the broader education system. Fact-based information on topics of concern should be concise, clear and targeted to the audience. The approach needs to endure over time to raise the overall understanding of forestry in New Zealand’s communities and our international markets.