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NFA Agrees With CAN On Pines

NFA Agrees With CAN On Pines

Native Forest Action is delighted that Coast Action Network and conservation groups are moving closer together in their hopes for the future of the West Coast. Earlier this week CAN requested that the government vest ownership of Timberlands to the Coast's three district councils. Although Minister for State Owned Enterpirises Tony Ryall rejected their idea, CAN's Tony Kokshoorn said they would continue to pursue the matter.

"CAN obviously recognises the likelihood of Timberlands being privitised, and that transferring ownership to local government would be the best way to ensure maximum possible benefits are gained for the Coast," said Peter Russell, Conservation Officer for Native Forest Action. "NFA disagrees that native forests should be included in such a deal, but most of the jobs and economic value in the Coast's timber industry is in plantation timber anyway."

"Although there have been repeated claims that NFA is a threat to the Coast's $40m timber industry, a fact normally lost in the debate is that the vast majority of the industry is in plantation timber - which NFA is not campaigning against. On the contrary, we have been promoting the idea of transferring ownership of Timberlands' plantations to local government for a long time," said Mr Russell.

"With callous disregard for the local economy, Timberands have been sending about half their pines off the Coast for milling, most of the timber being of high or medium grade," said Mr Russell of Westport. "These trees were not planted for the benefit of Nelson and Canterbury. The Coast's district councils have genuine concern for the people of their district and NFA is confident they would maximise the benefits of having the plantations on the Coast."

Earlier this year NFA and Buller Conservation Group announced their proposal for the full protection of all publicly owned native forests on the Coast in exchange for regional development assistance from central government. A key part of the proposal was transferring ownership of Timberlands' plantations to local government. At the time CAN and West Coast mayors 'wholeheartedly' rejected NFA's proposal (see 'Action Network dismisses NFA regional plan', Grey Star, 19 January 1999). "We're glad they have reconsidered the concept and now realise this would be a good outcome for the Coast," said Mr Russell.

"Nobody wants job losses to occur because of an end to native logging. With very strong support from the country's environment movement, NFA is willing to work with CAN to achieve local ownership of Timberlands' plantations. With the amount of plantation timber ready for harvesting rapidly increasing every year there will be more jobs created through plantations than those currently involved in native logging," said Mr Russell. "The local Ruatapu Mill, which currently mills most of Timberlands' native logs, has also stated it is ready to switch to pine right away."

"There is no justification for degrading what few old growth rainforests we have left by turning them into tree farms through so-called sustainable management."


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