Minister Confirms Plans To Privatise Timberlands
Speaking at the annual ECO conference held over the weekend, the Minister of Conservation, Dr Nick Smith confirmed that the government plans to privatise Timberlands West Coast Ltd – with the feeble reassurance that this wouldn’t happen “before the election”.
"West Coasters have been sold a public relations dream of hundreds of new West Coast jobs by Timberlands and the government with the beech forest logging scheme. In reality, the government couldn't wait to get the beech logging begun to make the controversial company more attractive to investers", said Native Forest Action spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer.
"If Timberlands is privatised the West Coast will lose their native forests and exotic plantations providing work for only a small handful of local jobs, while the vast majority of timber is exported as whole logs to other regions and overseas.”
“There is a way out however: to negotiate a regional development package which will leave native forests unlogged, maintaining biodiversity and utilised for the tourist industry, and transfer the control of the state-owned pine plantations to local councils who would ensure West Coasters get the most employment out of the deal.”
“The privatisation of Timberlands would ensure the least possible work for West Coasters. As it is, a large percentage of West Coast pine, rimu and beech is being exported to other regions without the local region benefitting much for having these resources extracted.”
Native Forest Action has been aware of plans to sell Timberlands after three Japanese companies were approached by the company last year.
“Native Forest Action wonders when and if the Timberlands front grounp Coast Action Native (CAN) will speak out against the plans to privatise Timberlands”.