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No need to trash forests for furniture - Greens

30 April 2000

No need to trash forests for furniture - Greens

New figures obtained by the Green Party show there is no need to continue unsustainable logging of publicly owned native forest in order to supply the furniture industry, says Green Co-Leader Rod Donald.

Mr Donald is speaking to timber workers in Christchurch about the issue tomorrow morning.

"The information we have received through Forestry Minister Pete Hodgson suggests there is more than enough timber available from plantation hardwood forests and native forests on private land," Mr Donald said. "We don't need to trash our native forests to sustain the furniture industry."

The Furniture Association claimed last month its industry would be jeopardised if the Government followed its election pledge to end the unsustainable logging of Buller rimu. They said they needed 20,000 to 30,000 cubic metres of timber a year, half of which came from Timberlands West Coast.

The figures released to the Greens show that in the year to 31 March 1999, 329,738 cubic metres of exotic hardwoods were harvested.

"Most of the hardwood harvest is eucalyptus trees going into low value pulp and paper production, when it could be used to make high value furniture," Mr Donald said. "While only a proportion would be useful for furniture making, they would need just 10 percent of it."

Other figures obtained by the Greens show that as of 18 April this year a total of 57,178 cubic metres of native timber could be harvested annually from privately owned forests, under sustainable management plans approved by MAF, twice the industry's current demand.

"If the furniture industry really needs native timber, then it should be from sustainably managed private forests rather than unsustainably managed public forests," Mr Donald said.

"This is certainly not a regional development issue. At the last census only 15 people were employed in full time furniture making on the West Coast. The main centre of furniture manufacturing is Auckland.

"There are no excuses left," said Mr Donald. "There is no economic, moral or legal reason for the Government to allow the destruction of publicly owned native forest to continue. The logging must end now."

Rod Donald, MP, 025 507 183, Paul Bensemann, Press Secretary 021 214 2665, 04 4706679

A regional breakdown of native timber available for harvest and the area of native forest on private land is available, 04 470 6679. National figures on plantation hardwood harvest and hardwood (rainforest timber) imports are also available.


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