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MAF applauds sentences for illegal logging

MAF applauds sentences for illegal logging

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) applauds the sentencing handed down today in the Christchurch District Court to two men and a sawmilling company for milling indigenous (rimu) timber without a consent.

West Coast farmer Michael Kevin Milne was fined a total of $6,500 for his involvement in the milling of the rimu, including providing the rimu from his land and procuring the other defendants’ offending. John Richard Groome was convicted and discharged, while his company Kaiapoi Contractors Ltd was found guilty of milling and fined $1,500. Judge Moran considered that Groome and his company were one and the same.

MAF was also awarded costs, which will be set by the District Court Registrar at a later date.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this case as it sends a clear message to people who break the rules around harvesting and milling timber from native forests,” says Robert Miller, MAF’s Indigenous Forestry Unit (IFU) manager.

“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 forests.”

The prosecution followed an investigation by the IFU that began in October 2003 after reports that rimu trees had been illegally harvested and milled from private forest land at Milltown, in Westland’s Arahura Valley.

The investigation revealed that a number of live rimu trees had been harvested on Milne’s property instead of dead, wind-thrown and salvaged trees for which a consent had previously been issued.

As part of the investigation, the IFU seized 7.07 cubic metres of sawn rimu from a timber yard. Under its Forests Act powers, the IFU sold the seized rimu and held the proceeds of sale in trust pending the outcome of the prosecution. Today’s ruling included an order that the proceeds of that sale ($12,408) are forfeited to the Crown.

Native timber on privately owned land may only be milled where it has been harvested in accordance with an approval under the Forests Act. These include Sustainable Forest Management Plans and Permits, personal use harvesting and milling approvals and milling statements for one-off situations such as wind-thrown trees, naturally dead trees or salvaged timber. All sawmills used for milling native timber must also be registered with the IFU.

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