NFA Agrees With CAN On Pines
Native Forest Action is delighted that Coast Action Network and conservation groups are moving closer together in their
hopes for the future of the West Coast. Earlier this week CAN requested that the government vest ownership of
Timberlands to the Coast's three district councils. Although Minister for State Owned Enterpirises Tony Ryall rejected
their idea, CAN's Tony Kokshoorn said they would continue to pursue the matter.
"CAN obviously recognises the likelihood of Timberlands being privitised, and that transferring ownership to local
government would be the best way to ensure maximum possible benefits are gained for the Coast," said Peter Russell,
Conservation Officer for Native Forest Action. "NFA disagrees that native forests should be included in such a deal, but
most of the jobs and economic value in the Coast's timber industry is in plantation timber anyway."
"Although there have been repeated claims that NFA is a threat to the Coast's $40m timber industry, a fact normally lost
in the debate is that the vast majority of the industry is in plantation timber - which NFA is not campaigning against.
On the contrary, we have been promoting the idea of transferring ownership of Timberlands' plantations to local
government for a long time," said Mr Russell.
"With callous disregard for the local economy, Timberands have been sending about half their pines off the Coast for
milling, most of the timber being of high or medium grade," said Mr Russell of Westport. "These trees were not planted
for the benefit of Nelson and Canterbury. The Coast's district councils have genuine concern for the people of their
district and NFA is confident they would maximise the benefits of having the plantations on the Coast."
Earlier this year NFA and Buller Conservation Group announced their proposal for the full protection of all publicly
owned native forests on the Coast in exchange for regional development assistance from central government. A key part of
the proposal was transferring ownership of Timberlands' plantations to local government. At the time CAN and West Coast
mayors 'wholeheartedly' rejected NFA's proposal (see 'Action Network dismisses NFA regional plan', Grey Star, 19 January
1999). "We're glad they have reconsidered the concept and now realise this would be a good outcome for the Coast," said
"Nobody wants job losses to occur because of an end to native logging. With very strong support from the country's
environment movement, NFA is willing to work with CAN to achieve local ownership of Timberlands' plantations. With the
amount of plantation timber ready for harvesting rapidly increasing every year there will be more jobs created through
plantations than those currently involved in native logging," said Mr Russell. "The local Ruatapu Mill, which currently
mills most of Timberlands' native logs, has also stated it is ready to switch to pine right away."
"There is no justification for degrading what few old growth rainforests we have left by turning them into tree farms
through so-called sustainable management."