Forestry manager Sarah relishes work with forestry industry

In a short amount of time, newly-appointed Forestry Resource Management Officer Sarah Helleur has accomplished a lot in Banks Peninsula.

Sarah Helleur

Forestry Resource Management Officer Sarah Helleur

Recruited to assist Environment Canterbury with introducing new National Environmental Standards (NES) to the local forestry industry, Sarah’s main objective is communication, rather than enforcement, with foresters.

“The new regulations’ purpose was to make forestry activities uniform because up until then all regions made their own rules and regulations,” Sarah said.

“That legislation means forestry activities now need to be notified to local authorities. I do a lot of site visits, predominantly in Banks Peninsula, where the types of soils and steepness of the land make it quite a high soil erosion risk.

“Because of that, I’m making sure that any activity up there meets the sediment discharge requirements. They were put in place in 2017 because of a big slash slide,” she said.

What does a site visit look like?

The main priority when on a site visit is looking out for sediment, Sarah said, but they are also a good reminder of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of the land and Harbour, as well as the needs of rūnanga.

One of the Banks Peninsula zone’s Canterbury Water Management Strategy targets for 2018, relating to the Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour catchment plan, was restoring the ecological health of Lyttelton Harbour.

And with the introduction of Sarah earlier this year, she has helped attain that goal by ensuring foresters adhere to the strict NES standards.

“Foresters are really good about it all, I was up seeing a site recently and the guys knew a weather event was about to come through and were making sure they were putting in the control measures to limit the damage as much as possible (avoiding sediment reaching the Harbour),” she said.