After decades of wrangling between commercial forest owners and environmental groups, on 14 August 1991 most of them signed the equivalent of a peace treaty.
This was an historic occasion and is almost unique in the international community where disputes between these two groups are commonplace. On 29 October 2007, many of the signatories re-convened and renewed their commitments, plus some additional clauses.
In the original agreement, there were two main points: that, given their important heritage value, existing native forests are to be protected from any development involving exotic plantation forests; and that commercial plantation forests are an essential source of perpetually renewable fibre and energy, offering an alternative to the depletion of natural forests.
This Accord was seen as a worthy example for other countries to follow.
The 2007 Accord updated the previous agreement to include support for climate change initiatives in a way that prevented perverse outcomes – such as the felling of native regenerating “scrub” or the planting of pines on pristine tussock lands.
The original Accord – and its successor – herald a spirit of new cooperation between environmental groups and the forest industry, and point to a brighter future for that most natural and renewable resource: wood.