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MAF seizes rimu logs near Patea

Thursday 24 August 2006

MAF seizes rimu logs near Patea

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) has seized approximately 100 cubic metres of rimu logs from a sawmill site near Patea in South Taranaki. MAF officers believe that the logs, which had been harvested from a property in the Waitotara valley near Wanganui, were being milled illegally.

The logs appear to have been harvested without obtaining approvals under the Forests Act and were being sawn using modified chainsaws.

MAF’s Indigenous Forestry Unit manager, Rob Miller, said that although a TV1 news item shown on Tuesday night (22 August) reported a possible “loop-hole” in the Forests Act that permitted the unrestricted milling of native logs using so-called “free- hand slabbing methods”, in the Ministry’s opinion there was no such loop-hole.

The Ministry believes that use of a chainsaw to produce sawn timber is milling by use of a portable sawmill. Such a mill, if sawing indigenous logs, must be registered with MAF and only timber from registered sustainable forest management plans or permits or other approved sources may be legally milled on it.

Rob Miller said MAF was concerned that it is investigating an increasing number of cases of suspected illegal logging of native forests driven he believes by the high prices currently obtainable for rimu timber. MAF had increased its enforcement capability to tackle this problem.

While some operators were attempting to profit through illegal logging methods, the majority of indigenous forest owners in the country who harvest timber manage their forests responsibly, Rob Miller said. The Forests Act provides forest owners with a number of options for harvesting and managing forests sustainably and the IFU is happy to provide advice and assistance to forest owners free of charge about these options.

The seized logs have been uplifted by MAF and moved to a secure location pending further investigations. Mr Miller said that it is likely that charges would be laid in this case.

ENDS

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