Public's Input on Forest Use Sought

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big survey.

Crown Research Institute Scion and its partners, Timberlands and Future Forest Research Ltd, are carrying out research to understand how different people use the area of Whakarewarewa forest managed by Timberlands, by conducting an on-site survey.

During November and December, visitors can expect to see interviewers from Rotorua economic consultants APR positioned throughout the forest and passers by will be encouraged to have their say on how the value of the forest for recreation can be impacted by forest management decisions.

Project leader Dr James Turner says information gathered from the survey will give forest managers a better understanding of the economic value of recreation in plantation forests, and pinpoint how management of the forest might affect the recreational value from users’ enjoyment while maintaining commercial timber production.

“Plantation forests have a key role to play in the economic, social and cultural context of New Zealand and much of Scion’s research is focused on how to maintain and maximise these values,” says Dr Turner.

“We want to find out why people use the forest the way they do, and how that use might change if, for example, the forest was laid out in a different way.

“The focus of this survey is on how the value of recreation, specifically from walking and mountain biking, might be influenced through forest management, which includes the mix of tree species, age of trees and size of management areas. It’s not about maintenance of specific tracks or the level of access. We’d also like to stress that it is not a precursor to introducing charges for using the forest.

“The survey will take up to 15 minutes to complete, but if a person does not have time there and then, they can take a copy away to complete later.”

The area of the Whakarewarewa forest managed by Timberlands does not include the ‘Tokorangi Triangle’, the area encompassing the iconic redwoods.

The survey will begin on 31 October and continue every day until the end of December 2008.