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Timberlands, Emails & Beech Trees

The government's decision to axe beech logging on the West Coast has been criticised yet again, with a foreign forestry expert saying the move was shortsighted and ignores that some forests are suitable for sustainable harvests. Scoop's West Coast correspondent John Howard reports.

Professor Eberhard Bruenig, a professor in world forestry and an associate member of Oxford University's forestry institute, was addressing a packed Greymouth conference centre on Friday night. He had been visiting West Coast forests during the week.

"About a fifth of the Coast's forests could be harvested sustainably using low impact harvesting methods used in mixed forests in Europe with very little impact on the environment," he said.

Professor Bruenig has joined a growing list of scientists who resemble a scientific who's who, in agreeing the government's decision may well contribute to further decline of native trees as integrated management has proved beneficial to forest ecology overseas.

"New Zealand should look to its native forests as a future investment because monoculture pine plantations are much more prone to disease and likely to fetch Luiless on the world market long-term," he said.

Meanwhile, planning manager Kit Richards, who resigned from Timberlands on Friday over a controversial email urging pro-logging groups to "put the heat on Prime Minister Helen Clark and other Ministers," was also at the meeting and received a standing ovation from the crowd.

He says he has received overwhelming messages of support from throughout New Zealand including flowers and other gifts delivered to his home.

Another hot topic at the meeting was the "spies, lies and emails" controversy about an email published by Native Forest Action (NFA) soliciting donations and stating it received financial support from the Labour Party.

NFA national co-ordinator, Nick Young, admitted Friday that the email was false and a hoax designed to flush out "the Timberlands spy." The Labour Party denies it provides financial support to NFA.

But West Coaster's at the meeting didn't buy that, and are waiting to see if the Prime Minister will be consistent with her public outrage and whether the Labour Party will now file defamation proceedings against NFA over using its name in a false email. The email has now been widely seen throughout the country including the media.

Coaster's are likely to call for the audited financial accounts of both NFA and the Labour Party to be released for public scrutiny.

The "spy" named in the "false" email, John Dronfeld, says NFA's suggestion that he was "spying" on NFA was "ludicrous"

"I only have NFA's word that that I was the only person who received it," he said.

But Mr Dronfeld's name is not mentioned anywhere in the false email which NFA claims it only sent to him. It was NFA on Friday who released his name "to flush him out" as "the Timberlands spy."

In another development, the mayor of Westland District Council, John Drylie, has written to every ratepayer seeking their views for possible court action against government over its decision to end the beech scheme.

Coaster's say when the West Coast Accord contract was signed by themselves, the Crown, Royal Forest and Bird and NFA, it was agreed that 137,000 hectares would be transferred into national parks and reserves and another 45,000 hectares transferred into DOC stewardship.

That was done but now some parties to the Accord want more locked up. The Court of Appeal has ruled the Accord is a contract.

Anger is building on the Coast, and the next couple of weeks will be very interesting to watch.

© Scoop Media

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