Forestry Scores High on Eco–services

A common source of ire for forest owners is that despite forestry providing society with a range of eco–services (such as soil and water protection, carbon sequestration, species diversity and enhanced amenity/recreation), it is sometimes portrayed as an environmental villain. The research on soil and water protection is unequivocal. In the research report "Water quality in low–elevation streams and rivers in New Zealand: recent state and trends in contrasting land–cover classes" (New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 2004, Vol. 38: 347-366) it is stated: "E.coli and dissolved nitrogen and phosphorous concentrations in pastoral and urban (land) classes were 2–7 times higher than in native and plantation forest classes, and median water clarity in the pastoral and urban classes was 40-70% lower than in the native and plantation forest classes. Water quality state in the pastoral class was not statistically different from that of the urban class, and water quality state in the plantation forest class was not statistically different from that of the native forest class."

See also Pakuratahi Land Use Study for a report on a study reported by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

The important point to realise is that the economics of forestry is highly sensitive to costs. Whilst the requirement for environmentally responsible management is not questioned, over–restrictive conditions on herbicide use or on forestry engineering could easily tip the balance of forestry's viability. Ironically, a narrow and inflexible approach to one environmental issue could result in a much larger and wider–scale set of adverse environmental outcomes resulting from reduced forest land–cover.