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Book exposes Government forestry industry mess

Nick Smith National Party Environment Spokesman

13 April 2006

Book exposes Government forestry industry mess

National MP Nick Smith today launched a new book, 'The Great Wood Robbery? Political Bumbling Ruins NZ Forestry,' authored by Dr Lindsay Poole, Hamish Levack and Julian Bateson, at the Royal Society in Wellington.

Dr Smith says the book highlights the level of frustration and anger among forest professionals over Government policy.

"It tells a sorry story of an industry that has gone from creating jobs and providing enormous environmental benefits to New Zealand to one that has lost investor confidence and is going backwards.

"Labour's daft Kyoto policies are contributing to a collapse in new plantings and to deforestation. A decade ago New Zealand was planting 80,000 hectares a year of new plantation forests, whereas we are now looking at no new plantings in 2005. It is predicted that for the first time in 50 years New Zealand will be losing forest area in 2006.

"Imports of timber and wood products surged to a record $178 million in 2005. It is bizarre that we prohibit sustainable indigenous forestry in New Zealand but allow completely unsustainable timber products to flood our markets. Importing such large volumes of timber is like Newcastle importing coal or Saudi Arabia importing oil.

"It is no wonder New Zealand's balance of payments is in such shoddy shape when the forest industry is contracting and imports are exploding.

"The Government's resource management and electricity policies are further undermining the industry by making New Zealand uncompetitive in processing logs into added value timber products. It is no wonder that forestry giants like Weyerhauser are abandoning New Zealand when the Government has such a poor policy approach to forestry.

"This book should be a catalyst for fresh new thinking on forestry in public policy. The Kyoto policies must be revisited and the 10% deforestation cap that is undermining confidence must be dropped. A consistent approach to sustainable indigenous forestry is required. There must also be reform in electricity and resource management to ensure New Zealand is an attractive destination for forestry investment," says Dr Smith.

ENDS

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