Thursday, July 23, 2020

Another environmental crime

A farmer in Te Anau has slashed and burned 800 hectares of native forest:

A Te Anau farmer accused of slashing and burning down 800 hectares of native forest in two years has been served with an interim court order to stop.

Southland District Council says Peter Chartres caused irreparable damage to flora and fauna when he cleared mānuka on his property to make room for pasture - ignoring an abatement notice in 2015 and multiple warnings he needed resource consent to clear trees older than 20 years.

Chartres denies he has done anything wrong and plans to oppose a permanent court order the council is applying for.

800 hectares of native forest isn't just a loss of native habitat and biodiversity - its a loss of carbon as well. Using the look-up tables, 800 hectares of indigenous forest of at least 20 years of age is at least 126,960 tons of carbon, worth at least $4.2 million at current prices (I wonder if he paid for it, or committed carbon fraud?). But its worse in the long-term, because at peak native forest soaks up well over a thousand tons per hectare. Which means this orc's destruction spree cost us at least 800,000 tons of long-term carbon storage, enough to soak up 1% of one year's emissions.

A court order is a good start. But acting without resource consent and ignoring an abatement notice is an actual crime, punishable by 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $300,000. This orc should be prosecuted. Or are farmers above the law?