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Thursday 24 August 2006
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) has seized approximately 100
cubic metres of rimu logs from a sawmill site near Patea in South Taranaki. MAF
officers believe that the logs, which had been harvested from a property in the
Waitotara valley near Wanganui, were being milled illegally.
The logs appear to have been harvested without obtaining approvals under the
Forests Act and were being sawn using modified chainsaws.
MAF's Indigenous Forestry Unit manager, Rob Miller, said that although
a TV1 news item shown on Tuesday night (22 August) reported a possible
"loop-hole" in the Forests Act that permitted the unrestricted
milling of native logs using so-called "free- hand slabbing
methods", in the Ministry's opinion there was no such
The Ministry believes that use of a chainsaw to produce sawn timber is
milling by use of a portable sawmill. Such a mill, if sawing indigenous
logs, must be registered with MAF and only timber from registered sustainable
forest management plans or permits or other approved sources may be legally
milled on it.
Rob Miller said MAF was concerned that it is investigating an increasing
number of cases of suspected illegal logging of native forests driven he
believes by the high prices currently obtainable for rimu timber. MAF had
increased its enforcement capability to tackle this problem.
While some operators were attempting to profit through illegal logging
methods, the majority of indigenous forest owners in the country who harvest
timber manage their forests responsibly, Rob Miller said. The Forests Act
provides forest owners with a number of options for harvesting and managing
forests sustainably and the IFU is happy to provide advice and assistance to
forest owners free of charge about these options.
The seized logs have been uplifted by MAF and moved to a secure location
pending further investigations. Mr Miller said that it is likely that charges
would be laid in this case.
[Note to editors: High res photograph available on request]
Further information contact:
Brett Sangster, Communications Director, 0-4-894 0165
Rob Miller, Indigenous Forest Unit Manager, 0-3-379