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Green Party Half-Baked On Illegal Log Imports

Green Party Half-Baked On Illegal Log Imports

New Zealanders need to see the whole picture and better understand sustainable forest management before accepting the half-baked statements by the Green Party, indigenous forest owners said today.

While the Green Party is urging the government to immediately ban the importation of ‘illegally’ logged tropical timber, Green Party co-leader Rod Donald, and the Government for that matter, turns a blind eye to an ever-increasing disaster at home, John Southerwood, an indigenous forest owners representative, said.

“The importation of any timber with no verifiable sustainability credentials is even more devastating for New Zealand’s private indigenous forest owners, their forests, their industry and the downstream manufacturers than the impacts of illegal tropical log imports. Mr Donald wants small, sustainable businesses to help local economies grow but his party is helping prevent that through ill-conceived conservation policies.”

Ministry of Forestry statistics show that since 1993, New Zealand’s timber import bill has been rising by 10 percent per annum and reached $284 million for “special-purpose timber” last year. A large proportion of imported timber arrives as kit-set or pre-built furniture, particularly for outdoor use. Of the solid timber imports, the largest proportion is Canadian cedar – a softwood – while the remainder is mostly hardwoods from Australia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, USA and Indonesia.

“Private indigenous forest owners, who must now meet new Forest Act management standards to gain MAF approval, are having to compete against huge quantities of imported timber and furniture on the domestic market. Very few of these imports are from verifiable, sustainable sources. This does nothing for world conservation and nothing for the New Zealand’s sustainable indigenous timber industry. Fair trade starts at home, as Mr Donald should know,” Mr Southerwood said.

“It is clearly hypocritical when you realise that this nation spent this much importing special-purpose timber with few or questionable sustainability credentials at the same time as spending a similar amount – $296 million – managing the national conservation estate,” Mr Southerwood said.

“If any politician is serious about issues of sustainability, then they must adopt and promote timber procurement policies that favour verifiable, credible sources, such as those certified under the international Forest Stewardship Council system. Such policies must be equitable regardless of whether those sources are exotic or indigenous, plantations or forests, New Zealand-grown or imported,” Mr Southerwood said.

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