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ALPORD FOREST., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 643, 23 May 1882
[from our OWN CORRESPONDENT. 1
I am glad to state that since my letter referring (o Alford Forest and the reckless sacrifice of the timber there appeared in your columns, several persons have evinced an interest in the subject. That is how it ought to bo. To point out defects is an easy task ; to find a remedy is the real object one must keep in view, therefore I was ghvd to learn what experience has taught others. In a young colony such as ours many things have necessarily been left undone which ought to have been done, and to say so is expressing a fact, mid casting no slur on the early administrators of the country. The pioneers have done well, and although the public debt is a heavy one, and the burden to be borne in consequence of it will have for many years to be felt, I, for one, believe there is a silver lining to our financial difficulty, and a bright future, if not for ourselves, at least for our children or grandchildren. The time is not far distant when New Zealand will have to negotiate a fresh loan. To retain the confidence of the capitalists at Homo, New Zealand must be prepared to show that her administrators are well able to take care of the national estate. From time to time a warning note has been sounded—- “ Take care of the forests yet to this day nothing systematic has been arrived at, and the prophecies of far-seeing men will I fear be realised in more than one instance. Already large tracts of forest land have passed into private hands without any laws binding the purchasers to use discretion. In many instances a trifling amount has purchased for private individuals or private companies, large estates, without binding the new owners in any form or shape. They can make “ ducks and drakes ” of what ought to be, or ought to have been, a source of wealth for many a long year. Such a state of things ought not to be allowed any longer. No country such as New Zealand ought to be without a Public Department, having for its duty the supervision of our forests. Where would France, Germany, and other countries be now if the national forests had been worked and spoiled as we work and spoil ours ? Would Franca or Germany have issued licenses for cutting, splitting,' and damaging without restriction (for restrictions and regulations have so far been a farce) as New Zealand has done ? Never. SVant of coal in many districts has taught those countries the value of timber —their forests are jealously guarded, the timber husbanded, the trees to be felled carefully selected by competent men, and the young saplings giving fair promise most tenderly nursed. In France a law was in force, and is still extant I believe, to this effect—“ Any person or persons found guilty of wooding, cutting, or in any other way damaging growing timbers o.i any of the national estates, will render himself liable to be imprisoned, with hard labor, for a term not exceeding ninety-nine years.” Now, sir, as no one under sixteen can be sentenced to hard labor in France, it meant a life-long sentence, and such sentences were actually passed. The growing of tobacco in the same country is regulated by law. Private individuals grow the tobacco, but they are restricted to so many plants per acre, so many perfect leaves on each stem. As a compensation to such strict regulations, the growers have the advantage of knowing that their crops will be always bought by the Government at a fixed price, ana they are well content. Why, then, should we not in New Zealand, above all, in districts whore timber is, or will, immediately, be scarce, say to the would-be purchaser, “ You can have the bush at so much per acre, but jsuch bush is to bo worked according to instructions enacted by the Forestry Department ?” A regular staff of foresters, large enough to cause no delay to the owners of the bush land in the pursuit of their avocation, would have to be employed, but I have no doubt a special tax to support the same would willingly be paid by the owners of the bush land. It ought, as the information and assistance derived from the district forrester and his assistants would more than repay the bushman. 1 feel so keenly on the subject that I have been led to speak of the public estate, although, as far as we of Alford forest are concerned, such questions cannot touch our bush regulations since there is no more Government bush, or what '.here is is not worth naming. But forestry conducted under Government supervision, or by private individuals ought in the main to embody the same principles where the object is to preserve the bush ; and the formation of such a public department could only assist private companies and individuals, who could, by paying, obtain the assistance of competent foresters. A few able men could readily be induced to settle in Now Zealand, and a school of forestry formed. Thus wo should at last manage properly that very important portion of the national estate, and have fair prospects to see it carefully husbanded in the future, beside opening an outlet to the rising generation. It may not be out of place to state that in France the schcol of forestry takes precedence of all other schools, and few of the public servants rank higher than the Inspector-General of the National Forests. I have no hesitation in stating that the first oteps to bo taken is the establishment of a public department, having fur i its duties the supervision of the national Forests and the formation of a school of forestry. Unwilling to occupy more of your space I will close my letter for this work, and in my nest will treat of Alford 1 Forest, taken singly. Yet allow me, sir, ’ before I close, to answer a remark made i tome more than once. <l You cannot j expect the Government to dictate to a man | what he shall do with his property ; any , one is at liberty to make ducks and drakes \ of his estate,” is the substance of the ro- ‘ mark, I confess there is, as far as the ' past is concerned, force in the remark; > <
but it only strengthens my suggestion of a forestry department being required, and in the future no bush land need be .sold except under certain conditions, fhua putting an end to the objection. It has been found expedient to prevent intoxicating liquors being sold to an inveterate drunkard, although he was able to pay, on the plea that it is a sort of monomania, that he injures his health, his prospects, | and those of his family. Why could not then laws be framed and passed preventing spendthrifts from squandering their estates, and bush-owners from destroying, in a comparatively short time, what ought to be a source of wealth, convenience, and comfort to a whole district for many a long year 1 I fail to see what objection there can be} and I feel confident that the bulk of my fe’low-colonists will agree with me, although opinions so straightforwardly expressed may not always be approved of Iby a few. I can only repeat the words of an old negro, whom I heard once say to his master, who objected to giving him a Written agreement—“ Massa, black and white tell no lies.*’ A writer on public subjects ought to toll no lies* at least Wil? fun y .
ALPORD FOREST., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 643, 23 May 1882
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