Conditional "Green Light" For Sustainable Beech On West Coast

Press Release: New Zealand Government

Wednesday, 23 December 1998

Hon David Carter, Associate Minister for Food and Fibre, and Hon Tony Ryall, Minister for State Owned Enterprises, today announced that proposals from State Owned Enterprise, Timberlands West Coast, for sustainable beech timber production on the West Coast had been given the "conditional"green light.

The Government has chosen to support the proposals because of New Zealand's need for high quality timber; the potential for employment and the environmental sustainability of the proposals.

"Advice to Government has been that the beech proposals are environmentally sound, and they will offer new growth opportunities for the West Coast communities."

"The Government has agreed in principle to sustainable beech management, as long as Timberlands West Coast can prove to the Government that its plans are commercially viable," said the Ministers.

"We want New Zealanders to have the opportunity of sustainable jobs being created from sustainable forests."

"This decision also honours the intention of the West Coast Accord, by allowing access to the beech resource on the West Coast. The strategy behind the West Coast Accord was to move the West Coast timber industry into sustainable production of indigenous timber and exotic plantation timbers over a period of time."

"There is a clear demand for the use of indigenous timbers by New Zealanders, in their homes; in furniture and in flooring."

"By using native timbers from sustainable sources, we will avoid becoming dependent on imported timber from clearfelled tropical rainforests. As a developed nation, New Zealand has a responsibility to tackle the problem of global deforestation."

The Ministers said the Government's decision took into account issues raised during the public comment process in October and November.

"We have specified that an independent auditor be appointed to carry out regular audits of the impact the beech management is having on the forests' eco-system."

"This implements a key recommendation from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, following his recent review of the beech plans."

"The environmental audit reports will be made publicly available, satisfying those looking for independent assessment of the beech plans."

The Ministers said the beech management proposals had already been certified as meeting the ecological sustainability criteria required under the Forests Act by MAF's Indigenous Forestry Unit.

Mr Carter and Mr Ryall said the beech proposals would help balance the effect on the West Coast of the Buller Overcut being shut down, six years early.

"This Government is acutely aware of the effect closing the Buller Overcut will have on the West Coast. However we believe, if proven to be commercially viable, the beech management proposals will help boost prospects for West Coast communities."

"The Government wants to allow opportunities for sustainable employment to be created from sustainable resources. The beech management proposals are environmentally sound, and we look forward to seeing growth in the West Coast economy from the sustainable production of beech."

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