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Forest Industry Calls For Strong Stance

Monday 1 July 2002
Forest Industry Calls For A Strong Stance On Biosecurity

If the Government abandons its programme to eradicate the painted apple moth it would be making a mockery of its stated policies on protecting New Zealand’s biodiversity and expanding trade access, says the NZ Forest Owners Association.

Cabinet is considering the future of the eradication programme and is expected to make a decision this week. One option being studied may be to abandon the programme altogether.

“Abandoning the programme at this stage would seriously undermine confidence in the Government’s resolve to eradicate exotic pests and diseases,” says NZFOA chief executive, Rob McLagan.

“It would send a message to our trading partners that New Zealand is not serious about keeping our flora and fauna free of exotic pests, which could have serious implications for trade.”

He says allowing the painted apple moth to become established in commercial forests could be financially serious for the New Zealand forest industry, which contributes in more than $5 billion a year to the country’s economy, and would act as disincentive for further investment in forest establishment and processing.

“Abandoning the programme would also give an unfortunate message to the community and the people of Auckland living in or near the infested area.

“It’s not only the commercial forests at stake here, it’s also the country’s indigenous vegetation, horticulture, public parks and private gardens.”

Mr McLagan says biosecurity is one of the key issues that needs to be addressed if New Zealand’s forest industry is to reach its full potential.

“The forest industry has the potential to deliver significant benefits to the country’s social, environmental and economic development, but we need to have effective Government policies in place to achieve that potential.

“A robust biosecurity regime that effectively manages imported pest risks, eradicates any incursions, and maintains international access for New Zealand’s primary products is essential – as is the need to expand training and education for biosecurity and border control operational staff.

“What the Government should be doing is adopting a tougher stance on biosecurity, not relaxing it.”

[Ends]

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