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Native Forests For Firewood Scandal

Native Forests For Firewood Scandal

NEWS RELEASE: 19 June 2000

Revelations today of the large-scale clearance of virgin native forests for firewood were a national disgrace, the Ecologic Foundation said today.

Two Southland sawmilling companies confirmed yesterday to the Christchurch “Press” that they were supplying wood from clear-felled native forests in Southland to the Christchurch firewood market.

"It is quite ridiculous that some of our magnificent lowland forests, adjacent to Fiordland National Park, are being clear-felled for the firewood market," said Guy Salmon, executive director of Ecologic.

“The total destruction of these virgin silver beech forests for firewood is
being countenanced by a government which said it could not tolerate low-impact, selective extraction by helicopter of trees for furniture-making on the West Coast.

“It spent $120 million closing down sustainable beech and rimu production on the West Coast, but in the Budget it has set aside only $12 million over the next three years for protecting nature on private land throughout New Zealand.

“Yet the real conservation problem always was on private land, especially with large-scale felling for firewood, and the conversion of native forest to radiata pine plantations.”

Mr Salmon said the Government must come up with a settlement offer that would compensate the Maori land-owners for the potential value of these forests.

“On the basis of the previous Government’s settlement on Stewart Island, we estimate that it would cost $60 million to achieve a negotiated settlement to protect the remaining forested Maori land on the South Island alone. The Government’s $12 million over three years will go nowhere.

"What is most disturbing about this episode is that the Government has been aware of this logging, yet has done nothing to stop it, and it has no serious money available.”

Mr Salmon said that if New Zealand wants to have a green future, it needs to come to terms with the difficult issue of conservation on private land.

"At present, the Government's approach to conservation on private land is its environmental Achilles heel. It needs to face up to this issue as soon as possible."

…ends

For further information, please contact Guy Salmon on 025 201 3033. Aerial photographs showing the scale and extent of the clear-felling in Southland are available on request.


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