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Official Guide to the Government Court: N.Z. Centennial Exhibition

State Forest Service

State Forest Service

A sound forest policy is based on the assumption that, on Crown Lands, both land and timber belong to the Crown, and that timber-users pay accordingly for the right to fell the raw materials for their industry, or that, alternatively, such rights may be completely withheld. This was the view of the earliest systematised Government of the Colony of New Zealand. (See photographic reproduction on mural of Colonial Secretary's Proclamation of 1841 concerning kauri, spelt "koudi.")

This seemingly simple and logical policy is not, however, easy to put into prac- tice during the developmental period of any virgin country, when the demand for land outstrips the demand for timber. In theory, the policy was adhered to, or at least not revoked. In practice, for full 60 years (1840-1900) it was little conformed to; and Crown lessees and purchasers were allotted both land and the timber on it without charge for the timber and without restriction on its destruction. Far from having the destruction restricted, Crown lessees found that they were usually enjoined, under penalty of resumption of the land by the Crown, to remove the timber with all possible speed by any and every means at their disposal.

By this procedure at least 20,000,000 acres of once-forested land was cleared for plough and pasture in less than half a century.

Under such conditions there was no room or place for a Forest Service with a forest policy, and the numerous attempts to organise one were abortive.

With the approach of the twentieth century signs of cessation of the timber glut and of the satisfaction of the land hunger began to be visible. By slow steps over 25 years (1896-1920), a Forest Service was brought into being; and its principal function came to be recognised to be that of establishing a balance between land to be farmed and land to be held to produce timber.

It is now 45 years since the beginnings of a Forest Service were instituted and progress has been continuous throughout that period. The tasks allotted to the-Forest Service are:—

(1)The production and the maintenance in perpetuity of an adequate domestic supply of such timbers as can be locally grown for the Dominion's timber industry, and more latterly the building-up of an adequate surplus to form a firm basis for a sustained export trade in timber in place of the sporadic trade of irregular and uncertain supplies developed in the past.
(2)The establishment and maintenance of exotic State forests to provide an adequate supply of softwoods to supplement the indigenous forest capital. (Note: Already the State Forest Service has established nearly 450,000 acres of exotic forests while, in addition, areas planted by local bodies and private interests aggregate some 350,000 acres.)
(3)The return to forests of land cleared during the land-boom era but found unsuited physically or economically for farming.
(4)The maintenance of a forest cover over 8,000,000 acres of State Forest land whether this cover be economically utilisable for timber or not, and the multiple-use management of such forest land to provide the greatest possible service to the community.
(5)The collection of State Forest revenues and their allocation to statutory recipients. page 69 (Note: There is a widely-spread popular idea that State Forest revenues go to swell the general finances of the State. This is quite erroneous, no part of these revenues being allocated to the Consolidated Fund.)
(6)The supervision of the disposal of timber assets of native-owned forests to ensure that the Maoris secure full value for their standing timber.
(7)The prevention of needless destruction of forest produce and of forest soils by fires.
(8)The guidance of the Dominion's timber industry by advice, by regulation, and by demonstration into modern and modernised methods of conservative timber manufacture and marketing, which will lead to the acceptance of timber as a staple article of primary production essential to the Dominion's economic structure and financial stability.