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Wednesday 21 December 2005
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) applauds the sentencing handed
down today in the Christchurch District Court to two men and a sawmilling
company for milling indigenous (rimu) timber without a consent.
West Coast farmer Michael Kevin Milne was fined a total of $6,500 for his
involvement in the milling of the rimu, including providing the rimu from his
land and procuring the other defendants' offending. John Richard Groome was
convicted and discharged, while his company Kaiapoi Contractors Ltd was found
guilty of milling and fined $1,500. Judge Moran considered that Groome and his
company were one and the same.
MAF was also awarded costs, which will be set by the District Court Registrar at
a later date.
"We are very pleased with the outcome of this case as it sends a clear message
to people who break the rules around harvesting and milling timber from native
forests," says Robert Miller, MAF's Indigenous Forestry Unit (IFU) manager.
"Harvesting and milling indigenous timber without the appropriate consent, or
beyond the conditions of a consent, threatens the sustainability of New
Zealand's private indigenous forests."
The prosecution followed an investigation by the IFU that began in October 2003
after reports that rimu trees had been illegally harvested and milled from
private forest land at Milltown, in Westland's Arahura Valley.
The investigation revealed that a number of live rimu trees had been harvested
on Milne's property instead of dead, wind-thrown and salvaged trees for which a
consent had previously been issued.
As part of the investigation, the IFU seized 7.07 cubic metres of sawn rimu from
a timber yard. Under its Forests Act powers, the IFU sold the seized rimu and
held the proceeds of sale in trust pending the outcome of the prosecution.
Today's ruling included an order that the proceeds of that sale ($12,408) are
forfeited to the Crown.
Native timber on privately owned land may only be milled where it has been
harvested in accordance with an approval under the Forests Act. These include
Sustainable Forest Management Plans and Permits, personal use harvesting and
milling approvals and milling statements for one-off situations such as
wind-thrown trees, naturally dead trees or salvaged timber. All sawmills used
for milling native timber must also be registered with the IFU.
For further information, please contact:
Robert Miller, Manager, MAF Policy Indigenous Forestry Unit,
Ph: 03 379 0217 or 021 391 254