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New law gives choices to SILNA forest owners

Wednesday, 19 May 2004 Media Statement

New law gives choices to SILNA forest owners

The Government has retained existing controls on the export of indigenous timber and is now providing for SILNA forest owners to come under the Forests Act sustainability regime if they want to.

This is the effect of the Forests Amendment Act passed by Parliament last week, says Pete Hodgson, the Minister Co-ordinating SILNA Policy and in charge of seeing the new law through Parliament.

Mr Hodgson says reports in some news media are incorrect in suggesting that the new law bans the export of indigenous timber products and forces SILNA owners to mill sustainably in terms of the Forests Act.

The new Act confirms that the export of indigenous timber chips and logs from SILNA lands is prohibited, as it has been for all other indigenous forest since 1993. However the law allows for the export of items including sustainably produced sawn beech or rimu, finished or manufactured products, and personal effects. Timber from planted indigenous forests is exempt from export controls. The new law also streamlines administrative requirements for exporting finished or manufactured indigenous timber products, by removing the need for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to approve each export consignment.

"SILNA forest owners can now voluntarily place their forests under the Forests Act sustainability regime, but they don’t have to," Mr Hodgson says. "Provided that owners comply with the environmental bottom lines of the Resource Management Act, they can mill their forests for the domestic timber market."

If they opt for sustainable harvesting, SILNA owners can apply for government assistance to develop sustainable management plans.

Some SILNA owners are choosing to permanently protect their forests by taking up the Government’s offer of conservation covenants, for which the new Act provides a tax exemption.

SILNA lands, most of which are in Southland, were allocated to Maori under the South Island Landless Natives Act 1906.

ENDS

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