Good fences, good neighbours

By Mark Ross

In order to improve their neighbourly relationships, farmers and forestry owners are developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to iron out some general principals around fencing, pest management, agrichemical use and understanding on other issues.

The MoU is a positive initiative aimed at improving links between landowners in industries facing similar concerns.

One of the biggest points of contention between farmers and foresters can be fencing.

Good fences make for good neighbours, but when fences are damaged, causing disruptions on either side, disputes often arise.

When your property is several hundred or thousand hectares, it can be hard to resolve problems quickly, especially if the neighbour is an absentee landowner or commercial forestry company.

As laid out in the MoU, under the requirements of sections 16 and 17 in the Fencing Act, if any fence is damaged or destroyed, repairs need to be carried out as soon as practical.

Depending on the circumstances, owners can share the costs of repair or one of the parties could be liable for the whole cost. For example, in a farmer's case stock damage would incur full repair cost, while foresters will be up for full charges should one of their trees fall and cause damage.

Often the problem is identifying who owns the fence, so it makes sense to have agreements.

Both forestry and farming play important parts in New Zealand's economic growth. It is important we remain good neighbours.

- Hamilton News

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