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Timberlands steps up Orikaka logging

8 May 2000

Timberlands steps up Orikaka logging

As Cabinet debates the future of native forest logging on the West Coast, the Green party says Timberlands is intensifying its logging - effectively clearfelling parts of the Orikaka Forest.

"Last month the Buller District Council gave Timberlands permission to effectively clearfell stands of ancient rimu throughout a large area of the Orikaka Forest," said Green Co-Leader Rod Donald.

Timberlands West Coast Limited's original consent to log the forest specified that the trees harvested should be at least 25 metres apart. The variation allows the company to log the largest of its seven working areas, known as site seven, with an average spacing between trees of just 12.5 metres.

"Because the 12.5 metre spacing is an average rather than a minimum, it allows them to clearfell the dense stands of rimu. They only have to ensure that there are big gaps between other rimu, and that's very easy to do in a forest that is mostly beech, with patches of rimu here and there," he said.

"It's disappointing that the Council made the decision because when they first considered the consent they looked at the issue of spacing very closely, employed a consultant to advise them, and now they've ignored that advice."

On 14 July 1999 consultants Mitchell Partnerships advised "If trees are felled closer than 30 metres apart there is an opportunity for adjacent trees to be knocked down... Without a minimum distance, the averaging of distances between trees in any one site could allow very close-spaced extraction in one localised area (or areas) of forest..."

"Timberlands have justified taking an extra 980 ancient rimu trees from site seven because they want to stop logging in site five, which is highly visible to neighbouring farmers and tourists travelling on the nearby state highway," said Mr Donald.

"Clearly Timberlands don't want the public to see the destruction they are wreaking."

The consent allows Timberlands to log a total of 12,580 rimu trees between 30 and 110 cm in diameter, within seven working areas in Orikaka Forest, by the end of this year.

Timberlands own surveys indicate the value of Orikaka Forest for wildlife, with 26 native bird species recorded including threatened species such as great spotted kiwi, falcon, weka, kaka and kakariki. The consent documents say "localised populations of great spotted kiwi and kaka are regarded to have national significance due to their relatively high densities."

Orikaka also contains rare and endangered species of mistletoe and orchid, and the streams within it host four species of native fish, two of which are threatened with extinction.

"All of these rare birds, plants and fish will suffer at the hands of the loggers," Mr Donald said.

"Timberlands say they will be finished logging by the end of September - the Government must stop the logging now. There will be no point in stopping the logging when it's already finished," Mr Donald said.


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