Timberland beeches will be wood chips
The management of SOE Timberlands West Coast Ltd must be heaving a huge sigh of relief as a result of the National Government's new Forest Amendment Bill 1999 due to be introduced under urgency in Parliament today, said Labour's conservation spokesperson Jill Pettis.
"Faced with a lack of markets for the Government's "think big" beech scheme, this Bill not only approves Timberlands beech scheme but allows the resumption of wood chip exports which will provide Timberlands with the export markets it needs.
"In June 1999 the High Court effectively removed the existing regulations which restricted the export of indigenous timber [Alan Johnston Sawmilling Ltd vs His Excellency the Governor-General]. The National Government had to go into damage control mode to prevent further contracts to export timber and wood chips from Southland indigenous forests.
"Labour is not going to support a Bill which tries to cover up the mess resulting from the National Government's mismanagement of the SILNA forests issue", Jill Pettis said.
"The Bill proposes a voluntary moratorium of Southland logging in return for costly compensation but it continues to allow SILNA landowners to log indigenous timber unsustainably if they so choose. Previous costly moratoriums on Southland have not achieved any results. The compensatory payments will be at the expense of existing successful Labour introduced schemes such as the Forest Heritage Fund which protect indigenous forests on private and Maori owned land.
"The Bill will result in a huge increase of exports of native beech and rimu with the resumption of wood chips exports to Japanese pulp mills. New Zealand indigenous forests will be exported to make newspaper. The SOE Timberlands, which had no markets for the National Government's "think big" beech scheme, will now be able to export beech as wood chips", Jill Pettis said.