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Native Plantations For Harvest say the Greens

Native Plantations For Harvest say the Greens

The energy that foresters are putting into subverting government policy could be harnessed to establish new native forests intended for harvest, Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

"A group of highly skilled foresters working on sustainable management are feeling their work has been rejected. Society no longer wants to manage old-growth forests, but their skills are valuable and should be used to build up new assets for New Zealand."

Ms Fitzsimons called for the Government to back ongoing research into native forests, with the aim of planting plantations of indigenous forests which would be ready for harvest for future generations.

"The National Government got things totally twisted," she said. "They allowed ongoing raids on the last remnants of our native forests, while at the same time selling off research forests which could teach us about planting native forests for harvest."

Ms Fitzsimons said an indigenous research forest in the Mamaku Ranges owned by the Forest Research Institute had been for sale since last year.

"This forest contains over 40 years of research into how native trees grow in plantations," said Ms Fitzsimons. "The Government is going to lose more than the intellectual property the forest contains, it is also going to lose qualified and experienced scientists who will be forced to take their skills overseas."

Ms Fitzsimons said while the Green Party was firmly against logging the last remaining remnants of old-growth forest in New Zealand, they would happily support the harvesting of purpose-grown native forests.

"When a country has already lost most of its old-growth forests, the only sustainable logging is cutting down trees which were planted specifically for that purpose," said Ms Fitzsimons. "Some native New Zealand varieties could be ready for harvest in 40-80 years. It sounds a long time, but that is the time-scale that European and Canadian loggers operate on."

"The climate of fear and hostility in the forestry industry could be changed if the Government put adequate resources into establishing indigenous plantations," Ms Fitzsimons said.

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