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Worst deforestation figures in 50 years revealed

Hon Dr Nick Smith MP
National Party Climate Change Spokesman

10 June 2008

Worst deforestation figures in 50 years revealed

The worst ever loss of 13,600 hectares of forest last year is a disaster for the environment and makes a mockery of Labour’s climate change commitments says National’s Climate Change spokesman, Nick Smith.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s National Exotic Forest Description Annual Report was released today.

“New Zealand proudly planted more trees than it felled every year from 1951 until 2003, building a forestry resource of 1.9 million hectares of trees.

“The last four years has seen ever-growing levels of deforestation. The 12,900 hectares of forests cleared and not replanted in 2006 had grown to 13,600 hectares in these latest figures.

“In 2002, only 2.8% of harvested forest was not replanted. By 2003 this had grown to 3.6%. In 2004, 4.2% of all forest harvested was not replanted and in 2005 it was 18%. In 2006 it was 33% and these latest shocking statistics, for the 2007 year, show 35% of felled forests remain so.

“This chainsaw massacre of 3.4 million trees is a direct consequence of the Government’s disastrous climate change policies. Foresters have been so desperate to avoid massive liabilities that they have chosen to instead, chop the lot down.”

The report notes; ‘The relatively new trend of not replanting forests after harvesting, and in a number of cases converting immature forest to pasture, started on a large scale in 2004’.

“This forestry debacle has added 10 million tonnes of CO2 to New Zealand’s emissions.

“Put this alongside the massive current increase in emissions from electricity generation, and the Government’s carbon neutral slogan looks like a fraud.”

ENDS

Attached: Graph of new forest plantings 2000-2007

Link to National Exotic Forest Description Report.
http://www.maf.govt.nz/mafnet/publications/nefd/national-exotic-forest-2007/nefd-2007.pdf

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