Waitutu Forest
Image: Les Molloy | ©


SILNA forests are indigenous forests on land allocated to Māori under the South Island Landless Natives Act 1906.

'SILNA forest' refers to indigenous forests on land allocated to Māori under the South Island Landless Natives Act 1906 (SILNA). 

SILNA forests originally covered approximately 57,000 ha scattered throughout the South Island. A 1999 survey indicated that approximately 17,300 ha remained under indigenous forest cover.

Objective for SILNA forests

The Government’s SILNA policy objective is to improve environmental management of the remaining SILNA forests by either protection for conservation purposes or management under the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) plan provisions of Part 3A of the Forests Act 1949.

In January 2002, Cabinet agreed to a policy for SILNA forests, which reflected a pragmatic alternative to legislation to bring SILNA forests under the Forests Act 1949. In April 2002, the Cabinet confirmed the policy along with a policy implementation package. The key elements of the package were:

  • provision for high-priority conservation covenants
  • assistance to SILNA forest owners for SFM plans
  • improving the application and enforcement of the resource Management Act 1991
  • extension of the voluntary moratorium on logging
  • controls on exports of unsustainably harvested timber from SILNA forests, and
  • a communications programme to explain the policy package.

SILNA policy implementation 

The Nature Heritage Fund on behalf of the Crown has been implementing the conservation component of the SILNA package which has provided funding for protecting conservation values on SILNA lands.

Under the conservation component high priority has been given to SILNA forest blocks established by Cabinet as the Tautuku-Waikawa block on the Southeast Otago Coast and the West Rowallan and two Waitutu independent blocks on the Southland Coast. However, applications from SILNA owners in other areas will also be considered.

SILNA applications

SILNA owners may register an interest in writing with the Nature Heritage Fund to protect SILNA land by covenant. The fund can make a monetary consideration payment for a conservation covenant in perpetuity under section 27 of the Conservation Act 1987 and section 77 of the Reserves Act 1977. A consideration payment would be based on the number of hectares, location, condition of the forest and recreational potential. The owners would retain the freehold title of the land.

The wording of the covenant would be determined by both parties through a process of negotiation.

Register your interest

Letters registering an interest should include a legal description of the SILNA block/s concerned and be addressed to:

The Funds Advisor
Nature Heritage Fund
PO Box 10-420
Wellington 6143
Email NHF-Admin@doc.govt.nz

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