Review of East Coast Forestry Project Confirmed

  • Dr Lockwood Smith

Forestry Minister Lockwood Smith has confirmed that the East Coast Forestry Project (ECFP) will be independently reviewed next year.

"When the project was first established in the 1992 Budget, it was planned that a review would take place after three years of operation to establish its performance in meeting its objectives and providing value for money," he said. "That review will take place next year."

The ECFP aims to establish forestry on eroding or erosion-prone land on the North Island's East Coast by providing grants to landowners. Forestry is established with the objectives of controlling erosion, providing jobs and regional development and promoting conservation. Around 17,500 hectares has been planted so far.

Dr Smith announced that he would appoint in the new year a panel of two people to carry out the review with support from the Forestry Ministry and other departments where appropriate. The panel will be expected to contact interested parties directly, call for submissions and prepare a report by May 1998. Officials will then consider the report so that Cabinet can decide on the future of the project by the end of June.

In the meantime, existing grant commitments will be met. Tenders may also be lodged in 1998 for grants expected to be available in the 1999-2001 years. However, the availability of grants in those years would obviously be subject to the results of the review, Dr Smith said