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West Coast Native Forests Misinformation

Release: Alan Liefting

The following quotes are from the website maintained by West Cast district councils at http://www.westcoastforests.co.nz to promote native forest logging.

"This web site has been developed to provide objective information on the West Coast Forests"

"Possums consume up to 30,000 tonnes of leaves, shoots and flowers EVERY DAY. The engine room of the forest!!! This is 365 times the volume currently extracted by Rimu logging. Nothing sensible or sustainable about that."

Firstly, since possums are nocturnal they will eat at night and the estimated figure I have heard most often quoted is 21,000 tonnes. This is a figure for ALL of New Zealand not for the West Coast alone. The fact that possums are chewing up tonnes of the forest is no justification for logging more of it. In fact it is all the more reason to preserve any remaining native forest.

"There are 500 West Coast families employed and reliant on the forestry industry."

This is for indigenous AND exotic logging. The number of people employed on indigenous logging alone is far less of course.

"Since 1993 all indigenous harvesting by Timberlands West Coast Ltd has been done with helicopters. No clear felling has been carried out since the introduction of helicopter logging."

"All indigenous harvesting is carried out by helicopter, clearfelling of indigenous forests ceased in 1994."

The Buller overcut is tantamount to clearfelling and this is carried out on 25% of TWC managed area.

"Approximately 30,000 ha, or 1.3 percent of the region, is in Timberlands exotic plantation production forest."

Some of this is ready for harvesting yet indigenous forests are targeted since they have higher profit margins.

"Indigenous sustained yield returns $400-600/hectare per year average at gross wholesale. Tourism on average produces around $45/ha/yr gross at retail."

I do not think the return per hectare is a relevant statistic. I have found the following figures:

1994 income from tourism on the West Coast: $124 million 1999 income may exceed $150 million (source West Coast Regional Council)

TOTAL income from forestry on the West Coast is $40 million Indigenous forest is a portion of this. (source Timberlands West Coast)


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