INDEPENDENT NEWS

Tony tells fibs

Published: Fri 17 Sep 1999 12:57 AM
State-owned enterprise Minister Tony Ryall is playing fast and loose with the truth when he says that Labour has miscalculated prospective rimu volumes for the furniture industry, according to Labour's forestry spokesperson Pete Hodgson.
"Mr Ryall says, baldly, that MAF has advised him that sustainable private forests will produce less than 4,500 cubic metres of rimu per annum. He states, equally baldly, that rimu will make up only eight percent of the timber produced.
"He is wrong. MAF offers no such advice. The 4,500 figure is current production, not prospective production. Similarly the eight percent figure reflects the status quo, not the future.
"The reason that private foresters are not cutting rimu is that they cannot compete with the odious practice of unsustainable logging being carried out by Timberlands. Timberlands is wrecking forests and swamping the market. That's why private foresters want Timberlands' subsidised and unsustainable practices to cease.
"To gain an idea of the potential for private indigenous sustainable production one needs to look at the figures. The state, being Timberlands, owns just 142 thousand hectares, most of which is beech forest. It is from a small proportion of that 142 thousand hectares that most of New Zealand's rimu is currently produced.
Private owned indigenous forests are nine times larger, totalling 1,308 thousand hectares. However only 500 thousand hectares is presently suitable for sustainable logging because the rest is too immature.
"Currently owners of a little over ten percent of that 500 thousand hectares have received approval for sustainable logging. The pace of permit application is increasing as foresters prepare for the long awaited exit of Timberlands from the unsustainable production of rimu. A further 62 applications are currently being processed.
"Those figures, coupled with the fact that an eight year contract exists on the Saltwater and Okarito rimu forests, mean that no New Zealand furniture worker's job is under even remote threat.
"Mr Ryall is scaremongering and is prepared to baldly and badly misquote officials for political ends."

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