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Research forests up for sale

The prospective sale of publicly owned native forests in the Bay of Plenty, used for research for 40 years, makes a mockery of National's commitment to sustainable forest management, says Jeanette Fitzsimons, Green Party Co-Leader.

The Government has given the Forest Research Institute approval to sell three blocks of land on the Mamaku Plateau near Rotorua, containing a total of 541 hectares of native forest.

"These forests are probably the most intensively studied in New Zealand," Jeanette Fitzsimons said. "Forest management trials started in these forests in 1959.

"In the block Forest Research are most actively trying to sell, 32,000 native trees have been planted for management trials.

"This is probably the most valuable forest in the country in providing the research to build a plantation industry for native timber and National are selling it off.

"There are significant opportunities in planting high value native timber trees either in regenerating scrub or on marginal hill country pasture.

"It is incredibly short-sighted to sell off these invaluable scientific assets for the sake of corporate accounting.

"The wider concern is that there is no research going into the production and management of plantation native timber as an economic resource.

"How can National Party MPs keep a straight face telling people on the West Coast of the South Island that they are committed to native forestry, when they have terminated the research that underpins the industry?" Jeanette Fitzsimons said.


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