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MAF pleased with outcome of overlogging court case

MAF pleased with outcome of over-logging court case

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is delighted with the recent sentencing handed down in the Tauranga District Court to a man convicted of logging almost 100 cubic metres more rimu than permitted.

Wayne Mark Ford was fined a total of $56,000 at the court on 16 September – the highest fine ever awarded in a forestry case of this type. His company, Helilogging Ltd was convicted and discharged.

Mr Ford and Helilogging were also found guilty of transporting timber in contravention of the Forests Act. The defendants pleaded guilty to failing to provide sawmill returns.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this case as it sends a clear message that the consequences are severe for people breaking the rules around harvesting our native forests,” says Robert Miller, Manager of the Ministry’s Indigenous Forestry Unit (IFU).

“Harvesting and milling indigenous timber without the appropriate consent, or beyond the conditions of a consent, threatens the sustainability of New Zealand’s private indigenous production forests and the ecological maintenance of forests forever.”

The case was brought against Ford and his company by MAF back in 2003 after an investigation by the IFU and the Ministry’s Special Investigation Group.

The IFU had received information alleging that a quantity of indigenous rimu timber in excess of that allowed by permit had been removed from a block of privately owned land known as Pembroke Station, near Wharekopae in the Bay of Plenty.

Under the Forests Act 1949, native forests on privately owned property may be harvested in accordance with a Sustainable Forest Management Plan or Permit issued to the owner through the IFU.

Such plans or permits require property owners to provide an Annual Logging Plan which must be approved by the IFU, and all sawmills used for milling native timber must also be registered with the Unit.

Robert Miller says a permit was granted to the Directors of Pembroke Station in June 2000 limiting the harvesting of native timber to a total of 160 cubic metres over a 10 year period. Ford was granted the cutting rights.

A subsequent Annual Logging Plan was submitted to the IFU and approval was given in February 2002 allowing harvesting operations to be completed within the following 12 months.

Work began in March 2002, with the defendant Ford milling the felled rimu by portable mill at the felling sites, then removing the milled slabs by helicopter to the nearest road head for transportation to his mill in Stratford, Taranaki.

“Inspection of the harvest sites and analysis of the stump sizes left behind revealed that Ford had harvested wood in excess of the permit,” Mr Miller says.

“Using standard industry formulae, one of our forestry officers calculated that almost 260 cubic metres of logs had been harvested from Pembroke Station - 99.61 cubic metres more than what was authorised.”

Robert Miller says the IFU then had difficulty obtaining records of the indigenous timber harvested from Ford. MAF’s Special Investigation Group was called in to investigate further and the defendant admitted he had failed to provide the required milling returns to MAF.

After lengthy deliberation, the judge ruled earlier this month that MAF had proved the elements of the charges laid under the Forest Act against Ford and his company Helilogging Ltd and said he was satisfied that Ford knew he had contravened the Act at the time.

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