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Government Spin Obscures Chipping Native Forests

Native Forest Action

Media Release

13 July 1999

Government Spin Obscures Opening Up Massive New Areas For Chipping Native Forests

Since the late 1980s woodchipping of native forests have been banned - with the only exception being the SILMA forests of Southland. Today's government announcement would seemingly end 'unsustainable' SILMA native logging to make woodchips - but open up the whole country for so-called 'sustainable' logging for woodchips by lifting the ban.

"Today's Government announcement of changes to the Forest Ammendment Act proclaims positive steps to ending clearfelling by Maori in Southland. However, what is deliberately obscured is the re-opening of woodchipping for the rest of the country's native forests" said Native Forest Action spokesperson, Dean Baigent-Mercer.

In December 1998, the Government stated they would permit SOE Timberland's beech logging on two grounds: 1) that it be 'ecologically sustainable' (there is no evidence of this), and 2) that it be 'economically viable'. Timberlands have been struggling to find markets for beech timber and have been secretly sounding out domestic woodchippers.

"The advantage to Timberlands, and their publically disliked native beech forest logging, is that the desparate SOE now has the cheap option of chipping public beech forests to make themselves 'economically viable'".

"A legislative change covering the whole country would not be required if Timberlands had no intention of woodchipping. It proves the economic viability of its beech logging scheme requires woodchipping. The choice now for these precious forests is full protection of threatened bird and bat habitats, or chipped nesting trees heading for overseas dumps".

"This highlights why West Coast native forests must be protected", NFA spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer said.

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