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Nats/ACT Asked To Justify $6m Timberlands Subsidy

National and Act asked to justify multi-million dollar Timberlands subsidy

The logging of West Coast rimu forests by Timberlands is being subsidised to the extent of nearly $6 million a year claims the Forest and Bird Protection Society.

Forest and Bird's Deputy President Bill Gilbertson has called on National and Act political parties to justify the reasons for this major subsidy of rainforest logging.

The rimu logging is subsidised through a peppercorn royalty on the rimu logs Timberlands is required to pay the government.

"The royalty of $5 a cubic metre is only 2.5% of the market royalty for rimu of at least $200 a cubic metre."

"Timberlands fells 30,000 cubic metres of rimu logs a year. For this Timberlands pays a paltry $150,000 to the government when the market price would be $5.8 million."

Mr Gilbertson said New Zealand argued in international trade forums against forest industry subsidies yet we heavily subsidise controversial logging of our ancient rainforests.

"The proposed beech forest logging will also be heavily subsidised with a $5 a cubic metre royalty against a market price of $100. Once the beech scheme is underway Timberlands would receive a further $5.7 million a year subsidy.

Mr Gilbertson said National and Act had never explained why they so strongly supported subsidised rainforest logging when this is in conflict with the parties' overall economic policies.

"Private plantation forest owners who are selling specialist furniture timbers are being forced to compete against this government subsidy to its own business. New Zealand should be backing these plantation forest owners and protecting its ancient rainforests."

Forest and Bird is holding its national council meeting at Thames this weekend and the Society's campaign to protect West Coast forests will be a key issue for discussion.

The Prime Minister Jenny Shipley is on the West Coast today and will be expected to defend her backing for the subsidised rainforest logging.

contact Bill Gilbertson ph 025 223 5940

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