Wellington: New Zealand will hold an inquiry to investigate forestry slash and land use causing woody debris and sediment-related damage in Gisborne and Wairoa, after Cyclone Gabrielle lashed the North Island and killed 11 people over the past week.
The two-month inquiry will help address the impacts of weather events such as cyclones Hale and Gabrielle and earlier events, according to the inquiry panel on Thursday, reports Xinhua news agency.
It will investigate past and current land-use practices and the impact of woody debris including forestry slash and sediment on communities, livestock, buildings and the environment as well as look at associated economic drivers and constraints, the panel said.
The inquiry members are former government minister and Gisborne resident Hekia Parata, who is also chair of the panel, former regional council chief executive Bill Bayfield and forestry engineer Matthew McCloy.
“Woody debris and sediment are particular issues for these communities following storms,” Forestry Minister Stuart Nash said, adding that more than 10,000 local residents have petitioned for land use to be better managed.
The inquiry will investigate storm damage and its causes, current practices and regulatory and policy settings, Nash said, adding that the panel will make recommendations to improve land use including changes needed for practices and regulation at central and local government levels.
People in affected communities and the wider public will be invited to provide feedback to the panel, he said.
New Zealand declared state of emergency on February 13, the third time in the country’s history, due to the devastating weather event which caused widespread power outages, flight cancellations and school closures in the North Island.