If properly managed forestry activities could have the least effect on the environment. Forestry and its products also have the ability to store carbon and hence considered as an effective mitigator to reduce increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
Forestry can also provide biofuel (wood or pellets) which reduces our reliance on coal or coal powered electricity which in turn reduces fossil based carbon input into the atmosphere.
It is also well known that water quality of waterways in the forested area is good during the growth period and after the forestry cover is well established.
As for the hydrology, the presence or absence of a forestry cover may affect the catchment hydrology. If forestry has been the historical land use hydrological issues may have been well known, understood or accepted by the community. In a well-established forestry catchment water flow may increase after harvest and until new tree cover is well established.
As for new and large scale forestry establishments, it pays to liaise with the regional councils regarding any effects on the local hydrology and the management such effects.
Apart from managing or dealing with the potential hydrological issues managing the effects of harvest on waterways during harvest and re-establishment of forestry are challenging and most critical for foresters. This is because forestry activities are generally confined to hilly areas and hence sediment runoff and associated phosphorus enrichment of waterways are potential issues.
Forestry industry is represented by the New Zealand Forest Owners Association, Forest Grower Levy Trust. NZ Forest Owners Association has a well-established and comprehensive code of practice to deal with most environmental effects (refer New Zealand Environmental Code of Practice for Plantation Forestry).
What can you do to NZ’s sustainability?
Apart from choosing forestry as a lifestyle or investment, profitability and environmental management should be the key factors to sustain forestry production and New Zealand economy. To maintain or improve profitability forestry performance is critical for which nutrients and pest management are essential. Long-term profitability also improves with energy efficient practices. Water and land have to be managed to avoid or minimise any damage.
Therefore as a forester your main focus should be efficient, effective and proactive management of
- Land and soil
- Pests and