Smith Announces Ban On Exports of Unsustainably Harvested Native Timber

  • Dr Lockwood Smith

The government has decided to further protect native trees by banning the export of all unsustainably harvested indigenous timber and woodchips, Forestry Minister Lockwood Smith announced today.

"The ban will help protect the small proportion of our indigenous forests that are not already protected by legislation by making it less commercially attractive to clearfell native timber," Dr Smith said.

The ban will end exports of unsustainably harvested indigenous wood by December 31, 1999.

"This initiative implements the Coalition Agreement's objective of phasing out indigenous woodchip exports from Southland," Dr Smith said.

The ban on exports of unsustainably harvested timber and woodchips will be implemented by an amendment to the Forests Act.

Under unsustainable harvesting, trees can be cut down faster than they can be naturally replaced.

The ban will affect Maori-owned forests in Otago and Southland and state-owned forests on the West Coast of the South Island.

These forests were exempted from export controls introduced in 1993 to allow time for a transition from unsustainable to sustainable harvesting.

The reason the government will allow some exports to continue up till the end of 1999 is so that contracts signed before today's announcement can be met.

No compensation will be paid to any contractors or exporters because sufficient time is being allowed for exisiting contracts to be cleared. Nor will the government pay compensation for contracts entered into after today's announcement.

Adjustment assistance will be offered to the South Island Maori forest owners on a similar basis to payments made to other forest owners affected by a previous export ban imposed in 1990.

It will relate only to cases involving existing contracts, where the South Island Maori forest owners are "prejudicially affected" by the new legislation, Dr Smith said.

The government intends to consult fully with the South Island Maori forest owners over the proposed law change and adjustment assistance.