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Government Continue To Be Duped By Timberlands' PR

Government's approval of Timberlands' beech scheme as being economically viable and having negligible impacts shows the extent to which Ministers have been duped by Timberlands' public relations, say conservationists.

"The scheme is only viable because Treasury and Government have declined to apply to Timberlands the market disciplines which apply elsewhere," Forest and Bird field officer, Eugenie Sage said.

"State house tenants have to pay market rentals, yet Timberlands can occupy and despoil public forests virtually for free, paying a paltry royalty of $5 per cubic metre of timber."

"Timberlands' forecast beech production of 39,500 cubic metres in 2004 will provide $197,500 in royalties to the Crown. This is scant return for the heavy damage to publicly owned, old growth lowland forests which this logging of tens of thousands of beech trees will cause."

Ms Sage said this quantity of beech would swamp the domestic market where current demand for beech is less than 4,000 cubic metres annually. This is more than satisfied by logging in Southland forests.

"Timberlands' beech scheme is only viable if the current Forest Act's ban on native woodchip and sawlog exports is removed," she said.

"Instead of recognising New Zealand's international responsibilities to protect a host of unique species threatened with extinction, Government is allowing their habitat to be logged and, if the Forests Amendment Bill proceeds, exported as wood chips, sawlogs and sawn timber," Ms Sage said.

"These species include great spotted kiwi, kaka, kereru, weka, native bats and rare native fish."

"Mr Ryall dutifully repeats Timberlands' claims that the logging will have "negligible impacts". He ignores the conclusions of detailed computer modelling (using Timberlands' own figures) by independent scientists in the Crown Research Institute, Landcare Research."

"This modelling clearly shows that beech logging will have major effects on the forest structure by reducing the number of large old trees and the average age of the forests. Big old trees are disproportionately important for perching plants and hole nesting species such as kaka and parakeets."

"Beech forests targeted for logging by Timberlands contain more than 26 native bird species, with more than half a dozen of these threatened with extinction."

"The Department of Conservation has identified 92% (or 120,829 ha) of the 132,000 ha mismanaged by Timberlands as having "high" or "medium" conservation values deserving protection under DoC's national criteria for forests protection," Ms Sage said.

"Government has ignored the scientific evidence that the beech logging is not sustainable and has major ecological impacts on the forests," Ms Sage said.

ends

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