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New data highlights chainsaw massacre

Hon Nick Smith
National Party Climate Change Spokesman

25 May 2007

New data highlights chainsaw massacre

A record 13,000 hectares of deforestation last year, amounting to the felling of over 3 million trees is an environmental disaster, says National's Climate Change spokesperson Dr Nick Smith.

He is commenting on today's annual release of Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry figures.

The National Exotic Forest Description database records new forest plantings, forest harvesting and New Zealand's total forestry area since 1951.

"Every year from 1951 to 2003 saw an increase in New Zealand forestry by an average 40,000 hectares.

"Deforestation began in 2004 with 5,000 hectares felled, 11,000 hectares in 2005 and 13,000 hectares in 2006.

"It is no coincidence that deforestation started the year after the Labour Government decided to deny forest owners the carbon credits from their trees.

"Proposals to impose a deforestation tax next year is further accelerating this chainsaw massacre.

"This record deforestation added 800 thousand tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere last year and makes a mockery of Helen Clark's talk of carbon neutrality.

"Labour trumpeting about Treasury going carbon neutral is cynical spin, when this deforestation is adding 800 thousand tonnes of carbon."

"NZ First and Winston Peters will also be acutely embarrassed by these figures after they pledged in the 2005 campaign an additional 100 million trees over a decade.

"Far from planting an additional 10 million trees per year, since he has been supporting the Government on confidence and supply, New Zealand is actually felling 3 million a year.

"New Zealand's top climate change priority should be reversing this devastating deforestation. National will restore confidence in the forest sector by allocating forest credits to forest owners. National will also help fund planting trees on erosion prone hill country through the Sustainability Investment Fund outlined in National's Bluegreen Vision for New Zealand."

ENDS

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