Government Releases Timberlands Sustainable Beech Plans

Press Release: New Zealand Government

6 October 1998

The Associate Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control, Hon David Carter, today invited the public to comment on Timberlands West Coast Limited's plans to sustainably produce timber from the West Coast Accord indigenous production forests.

The full plans are available at selected public libraries and on the Internet (http://www.maf.govt.nz/Forestry). A summary of the plans is available by writing to Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) which is conducting the public comment process.

"The Ministry's Indigenous Forestry Unit, in consultation with the Department of Conservation, has now certified that the beech plans meet the stringent ecological sustainability criteria contained in the Forests Act. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment will also provide a report on the beech plans", Mr Carter said.

"The New Zealand public now have the opportunity to see for themselves the approach Timberlands has taken to the sustainable management of the forests. They are also invited to make comments on the plans", Mr Carter said.

This level of scrutiny and transparency has never before been required of any forest owner.

Many environmentalists including the Worldwide Fund for Nature and Maruia Society, have publicly supported the ecologically sustainable use of these forests. These groups views are supported by eminent scientists such as Dr John Wardle, Dr Henrick Moller and Dr David Norton.

Dr Norton, an ecologist and conservation biologist with extensive practical and academic experience, recently said of the beech proposals "They are proposing perhaps the most ecologically sustainable forest management system world-wide and through the mitigation provisions of the Resource Management Act they will control introduced pests such as possums and stoats. Because of this, native birds may well be better off in a sustainably managed indigenous forest than in a reserve with no pest control. We should be congratulating the company for their innovative work , not knocking them for it."

In 1986 the then Labour government, environmental groups, and representatives of the West Coast community signed the West Coast Accord promising to make these forests available for "a continuing supply of indigenous timber in perpetuity".

Officials will report to the Government on the public's comments by year's end.

Before making a final decision on whether to proceed with sustainable beech production, the Government must be satisfied that the plans are not only ecologically sustainable but also economically viable, and that areas of the highest conservation value are preserved.

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