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Only legal wood should be sold here

30 Aug 2007

Forest owners are encouraging New Zealanders to support a government proposal to clamp down on the sale of wood products from illegally harvested forests.

“Illegal harvesting of indigenous forests, especially in the tropics and northern Asia, has a huge impact on the natural environment, destroying the habitat of endangered species, and contributing to climate change,” says NZ Forest Owners Association president Peter Berg.

“Wood from these forests also competes with our own exports in a number of key export markets – driving down price and demand and unfairly sullying the reputation of forestry everywhere.”

He says opposing illegal logging and the trade in products from illegally harvested forests is an environmental cause where New Zealand can stand tall.

“It is hard to find a land use which is more environmentally friendly than plantation forestry as practised in New Zealand. Also, our government strictly enforces laws relating to the sustainable harvest of logs from native forests.”

Mr Berg says the forest and wood processing industry is working with the government to ensure sustainable forestry practice is part of the Brand New Zealand story – something all Kiwis can be proud of. But he cautions that it does mean that everyone has to “walk the talk”.

“If New Zealand is to speak out internationally against the effects of illegal logging on climate change, biodiversity and the economics of sustainable forestry practice, we certainly can’t permit the sale of illegally harvested wood at home,” Mr Berg says.

“Imported furniture and decking – the main end uses of wood imported into New Zealand – should not be sold here unless it comes from a legal and preferably sustainable source.”

He says the sustainability of NZ plantation forestry is an increasingly important selling point for NZ forest products, both at home and abroad.

“Nevertheless, in some overseas markets price comes before sustainability and this is where prices for NZ logs and forest products are depressed by competition from products from illegally harvested forests.”

Government funded research estimates that this unfair and unethical competition is costing New Zealand NZ$266 million a year, increasing to $390 million in the next few years.

“We have been working for a considerable time with the government and its officials on this matter and are pleased to see Mr Anderton bringing things to a head in a very positive way.

“We are also working with environmental groups in New Zealand to get agreement on sustainability rules and the independent certification of forests which comply with those rules.”

For more information, please contact Peter Berg, Tel 09 309 5049 or 021 421 291