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End In Sight To Unsustainable Logging

MEDIA RELEASE EMBARGOED UNTIL 1PM 13 JULY 1999

HON NICK SMITH HON DAVID CARTER

MINISTER OF CONSERVATION ASSOCIATE MINISTER OF FOOD & FIBRE

Voluntary Moratorium Proposed for South Island Maori Forests

Conservation Minister Nick Smith and Associate Food & Fibre Minister David Carter today announced a new approach for the resolution of the long standing problem of sustainable forest management on lands held under the 1906 South Island Landless Natives Act.

"The Government wants to achieve sustainable management of all of New Zealand's remaining indigenous forests but wants to achieve this by way of negotiation. Today we are initiating a new process of a voluntary moratorium on logging in exchange for financial help to owners. The moratorium will provide a breathing space without the threat of logging or forced application of the sustainability provisions of the Forests Act in which long term negotiated settlements can be concluded," Dr Smith said.

The Government had previously proposed to legislate to bring these lands under the Forests Act. This proposal was criticised by Maori owners as heavy handed. The new approach has arisen as a consequence of informed discussions with owners and will be put formally to a hui in Christchurch on Saturday 31 July. The package is not set in concrete and changes may be made following this discussion.

Mr Carter said the Government is also introducing controls to ban the export of unsustainably produced wood products. The new legislation confirms the controls that the Government has had on the export of indigenous timber since 1990. It also recognises the decision of Justice Wild, in the High Court last month. Justice Wild did not dispute what the Government was trying to achieve in controlling exports of unsustainably produced wood products but found the use of the Customs Regulations inappropriate. The Government has been considering for some time allowing the export of sustainably produced timber products. The new legislation will provide for that."

The legislation to give effect to these decisions will be introduced to Parliament today. The legislation includes decisions already announced with respect to indigenous production forests managed by Timberlands West Coast. These include an end to the rimu overcut in the Buller region by the end of year 2000 and the application of the sustainable forest provisions of the Forests Act to all West Coast forests.

"This is the last leg in New Zealand's bumpy journey to sustainable forest management. The debate against clearfelling has raged for thirty years and every step has had its dramas. The full application of the Forests Act to the West Coast and SILNA forests will ensure the survival, for our grandchildren, of our remaining indigenous forests. We are not quite there yet but it is an outcome worth fighting for", Dr Smith said.

ENDS


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