At its meeting on Thursday 9 February, Council approved the creation of the Right Tree Right Place Taskforce to evaluate future options for Nelson City Council’s 600 hectares of plantation forest in the Maitai, Brook, Roding and Marsden valleys.

It will evaluate potential forestry options and their socio-economic and ecological impacts on the region for the next 25–30 years and make recommendations to the full Council. 

Terms of reference for the Taskforce are being developed, with the intention they will provide scope to examine a range of forest options and their socio-economic and ecological values for Nelson city and the wider region. Establishing processes to draw on a wide range of skills, experiences and views will be an important part of the Taskforce’s work, as will using the findings of several recent Council forestry reports. 

“Forestry management is a complex issue, requiring ongoing assessment of its impacts on the environment, the local economy, and recreation and tourism for our region,” says Nelson Mayor Nick Smith.

“People are rightly passionate about the issue, and it is essential Council considers a variety of viewpoints before making a decision that impacts the region for the next quarter-century planting cycle.”

Mayor Nick says the Right Tree Right Place Taskforce is named deliberately to indicate the way forward needs to be tailored to each of the specific forestry stands. “My goal in establishing this Taskforce is to create an objective group that will consider all of these priorities in line with sound scientific and technical advice and ultimately recommend to Council the best way forward in managing its land."

Taskforce lead and former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Morgan Williams says there is no easy or one-size-fits-all solution for forestry management. 

“Forests are a very important part of the region’s resilience, as a timber resource, carbon sink, for recreation and conservation, and landscape protection.

“How people relate to and feel about the environment around them has a huge impact on how different groups determine priorities for the management of natural capital and long-term sustainability.

“It’s an honour to lead the Taskforce, and I look forward to working with Nelson City Council to recommend ways forward for the region.”

Councillor and Taskforce member Rachel Sanson says she has heard from many in our community concerned about the impact of Council’s production forestry. 

“The August 2022 weather event really highlighted the risks we are facing as a community from increased rainfall due to climate change – especially from erosion, flooding and sedimentation.

“I am really appreciative of Mayor Nick's openness to considering this issue and hope the Taskforce will put forward recommendations Council and the community can embrace.”

Dr Williams and Councillor Sanson will be joined by Councillor Matthew Benge on the Taskforce and will also jointly recommend two additional non-Council members with relevant industry and environmental expertise to round out the group. The Taskforce’s recommendations to Council will be considered later this year so any change in policy can be included in the Council’s consultation on the Long Term Plan 2024-34. 

Council’s previous work on forestry and resulting reports, which the Taskforce will assess as part of its recommendation process, are now available for the public to view at