Sawmiller fined for illegal milling of native timber

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A 45 year-old Takaka man was fined $3,000 in the Nelson District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to two charges relating to milling indigenous timber.

Along with the $3,000 fine, John Michell a bicycle mechanic and part-time saw miller, was ordered to pay $1,000 towards the costs of investigation. 

In November 2012 the Ministry for Primary Industries became aware that a quantity of milled indigenous rimu timber was being offered for sale on the TradeMe website. 

Subsequent inquiries revealed that the rimu had been milled by the defendant at his unregistered sawmill.  He had milled it at the request of another man, who was also charged for breaches of the Forests Act 1949. 

In March 2013 search warrants were executed at the defendant’s sawmill and at his residence.  A large quantity of indigenous totara timber, approximately 8m3, was found at the defendant’s home, which had also been milled at his unregistered sawmill. 

When spoken to by a forestry officer the defendant was cooperative and admitted he had milled both the rimu and the totara at his unregistered sawmill.  He also admitted knowing that his mill needed to be registered in order to mill indigenous timber. 

In 1999 Michell received a warning from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (now Ministry for Primary Industries) for milling indigenous timber on an unregistered sawmill. 

An order for the forfeiture of the timber, estimated to be worth around $15,000, was made by the Court.

Nelson/Marlborough District Compliance Manager Ian Bright says that he is pleased to see the courts sending a strong message that harvesting and milling of indigenous timber without appropriate consents, plans or permits is unacceptable.

 “Any harvesting and milling of indigenous timber without appropriate authority threatens the sustainability of indigenous forests. 

 “We take the laws that govern our native forests very seriously and will use all resources at our disposal to ensure New Zealand’s environment and natural resources are protected for future generations.”

The co-defendant requested a remand without plea, this case has been adjourned to 11 December.

For further information about New Zealand’s indigenous forestry regulations, please see the MPI website - http://www.mpi.govt.nz/forestry/forestry-in-nz/indigenous-forestry  

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