A local focus: Implementing policies for land-use change in the Wairoa District
This paper explores community attitudes to policies designed to promote increased afforestation in the Wairoa District in Northern Hawkes Bay. The approach adopted involved face-to-face interviews with over 80 local residents, including farmers and iwi representatives, as well as policy makers, land agents, forestry experts, and scientists in Hawke’s Bay and elsewhere in the country. Group meetings were also held with farmers, iwi and others in the Wairoa District. Community engagement extended from mid-2019 to early in 2020.
Concerns raised about increased afforestation included its impact on employment and pastoral land use and on the provision of public services. Such concerns are grounded in some part in Wairoa’s history and traditional dependence on the hill country as the source of its identity and social well-being.
Increased tree planting confronts the perceptions and experience of many land users and other community members. Resistance is heightened where the policy goals appear to conflict with economic well-being or to undermine existing values. At the same time there is evidence of a broad consensus in favour of tree planting to meet environmental needs.
Current policies challenge land users’ capacity to adapt and respond to the opportunities these policies provide. Building capacity requires the provision of information and other evidence to increase understanding among all stake-holder groups
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