Poor forestry practices mean the industry has lost its social licence to operate, and wide-scale forestry felling should be stopped immediately, a report has found.
Ministers commissioned former National cabinet minister Hekia Parata to lead the report into forestry slash, woody debris and sediment in Tai Rāwhiti and Wairoa after Cyclone Gabrielle devastated those regions and others along the North Island's east coast. Other members of the panel include Matthew McCloy and Dave Brash.
Titled Outrage to Optimism, the report warns of a perilous situation the government has five to 10 years to turn around, with Ngāti Porou at risk of becoming "homeless and landless".
"While we make findings and recommendations for both districts, the urgency of the situation across Ngāti Porou is unassailable. An environmental disaster is unfolding in plain sight," the report's foreword says.
It found lives and livelihoods were put at risk by woody debris and sediment, much of it beyond the ability of the local community to clean up on its own.
The 44-page report includes 90 findings and 49 recommendations, including setting up a new taskforce funded in part by government and councils, and having Tai Rāwhiti be one of the first regions where resource management reforms are rolled out.
Forestry Minister Peeni Henare and Environment Minister David Parker this morning thanked the panel for its "excellent work" in a short timeframe, noting there were 318 submissions.
They said they would promptly and carefully consider the report and announce decisions "as soon as possible".
More to come...