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Forest Health Surveillance

The need to have in place an effective system to check the health of the country's exotic plantation is more important than ever. This need has been highlighted by the number of recent incursions of exotic pests and diseases which, if they become established, could seriously jeopardise our forest estate.

In addition to providing for early detection of any exotic disease or pest incursion, the national forest health surveillance scheme also provides:

  • Data to meet New Zealand's international forest reporting requirements.
  • Forest health management information.
  • Assurances to forest industry investors and shareholders.

Work Programme Details

Early in 2017 MPI and FOA agreed in principle to share fund 50:50 of the further development of the new FBS, including pilot testing, and potentially 50:50 share of the operational system, subject to a number of MPI approvals. As a result, a formal Governance committee has been formed with representatives from FOA and MPI, and the technical working group (TWG) has been formalized with a Terms of Reference. The TWG has representatives from FOA, MPI, and Scion.

Early roll out of the new FBS revealed a couple of glitches in the resource allocation model that have now been corrected. The model is to be piloted in three regions starting in April 2017 (1) Auckland, (2) Taupo, and (3) Southland. The model will be further adjusted and optimized based on the results from the pilot trial. The intention is to have a fully operating and cost-shared FBS running from 1 July, but this will depend on a number of factors including the results of the pilot trial and MPI budget approval. In the meantime forests continue to be surveyed and both forest health and trade protected.

The new FBS, as predicted, will see much greater survey effort allocated to urban and peri-urban areas, around most likely ports of entry. 30% of the total budget has been allocated to survey "lower risk" areas to ensure we don't miss issues that the model doesn't pick up.

The revised scheme will have varying implications for different forest growers/managers. First and foremost, all growers/managers should have increased confidence that the probability of detecting new biological incursions of consequence quickly will be enhanced. Subsequent chances of eradication and trade protection will thus be increased.

FOA members who have been part of the previous scheme may find that not all of their forests are being surveyed, or are not being surveyed either as intensively and/or regularly. The reports on forest health status previously received may be discontinued unless supplementary arrangements are made with the surveillance contractors. Similarly, where agreements covering various joint ventures, (for example, forestry rights, leases and management contracts), stipulate requirements for regular forest health inspections or surveillance, and these forests are no longer surveyed as part of the scheme, alternative arrangements to meet these obligations may have to be made by the forest managers responsible for them.

Some non FOA members will be contacted for permission to access their forests for forest health surveillance purposes for the first time.

More details of the scheme will be provided when they are available."

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