Making trees serve people (revisited)

Authors: Mark Bloomberg
Publication: New Zealand Journal of Forestry, Volume N.Z.J.For. 2023, Issue N.Z.J.For. 68(3) 2023 , pp Pages 16 - 21, Nov 2023
Publisher: New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Abstract: Jack Westoby was a prominent figure in world forestry in the second half of the last century, retiring in 1974 as Director for Programme Coordination and Operations in the Forestry Department of the FAO. He saw forestry as a means for bettering people’s lives, and the development of the plantation forest sector in New Zealand and Australia as an exemplar for forestry throughout the Asia-Pacific region. This paper asks whether he would still consider this to be the case today. Two areas where the New Zealand forestry sector has faced considerable criticism in the last decade are 1) the health and safety of the workforce and 2) environmental performance. Within the constraints of a neoliberal market economy, the forestry sector has recognised workforce health, safety and wellbeing as an issue. It has realistic proposals for improving both economic and health outcomes for workers. In contrast, although plantation forests provide ecosystem services (such as soil and water conservation) the forestry sector has no concrete proposals to improve the forestry sector’s performance. There is a need for an Environmental Transformation Plan (ETP) if the forestry sector is not to lose its social licence to operate on erosion-susceptible lands.
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