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The Forest Accord Shattered by Preservationists

Press Release – 8 February 2000.

The Forest Accord Shattered by Preservationists

"Now that Forest & Bird has breached the Forest Accord, there seems little point in the forestry representatives who also signed the Accord keeping their side of the bargain" says Brian Swale, a spokesperson for a sustainable forestry group.

It was e-mail discussions amongst this group that led to the Prime Minister calling for the resignation of Kit Richards recently.

On 14 August 1991, four forestry business associations, and the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand (Inc.) together with 8 other organisations (the "New Zealand Rainforest Coalition"), signed The New Zealand Forest Accord.

Part of this Accord reads: 'The parties support the production management and harvest of naturally occurring indigenous forest only where such activity is conducted on a sustainable basis and principally for the production of added value solid wood products in New Zealand. A "sustainable basis" is considered to be a rate and method of tree extraction that does not exceed the replenishment so that the forest ecosystem in the area under consideration be maintained in perpetuity'.

"The TWC beech harvest proposal was sustainable for both timber production and for protection of biodiversity and ecosystems. The beech timber was mainly to be used for making furniture, a high value solid wood product. TWC put in 5 years of intensive research and planning to make sure they honoured the Forest Accord and the West Coast Accord." said Brian Swale.

"The signatory on behalf of Forest & Bird on this Forest Accord was Kevin D. Smith, Conservation Director of Forest & Bird, the very same person who has spearheaded a campaign so vigorously against sustainable management of TWC's beech forests" said Mr Swale.

Since signing the Accord, Forest & Bird have gone even further to breach its principles by passing a policy in 1997, binding Forest & Bird "to promote an end to all logging of natural indigenous forests on public land in New Zealand, including those currently managed by SOE's and advocate that they be allocated to the Department of Conservation for permanent protection".

Mr Swale notes this historic 1991 truce between the Rainforest Coalition and the grouping of forest and timber associations bound the associations to cease felling or clearing certain defined types of indigenous scrub and regenerating bush, of which there are hundreds of thousands of hectares, for forest development.

"So what should the forestry interests do now?" asks Mr Swale.

"Clearly, the Accord needs to be negotiated again to ensure ongoing conservation through sustainable use. But with whom? Forest and Bird obviously cannot be trusted to keep their word." said Mr Swale.


Brian Swale is a retired forester with a forestry Masterate and 32 years of experience in wide-ranging forest management. He is committed to conservation through sustainable use as an important strategy alongside preservation to protect biodiversity at the same time as supporting New Zealand society.

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