Rhetoric upsets forestry industry

The forestry industry has objected to the ''entrenched positions'' it perceived in recent...
The forestry industry has objected to the ''entrenched positions'' it perceived in recent Parliamentary debate about allowing log salvage on the West Coast following Cyclone Ita. Photo supplied.
Forestry is swiftly moving from a log boom to bust - with hundreds of jobs at risk - and politicians should not be arguing over whether to salvage West Coast logs felled by a cyclone, industry leaders say.

The Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) has taken a swipe at both National and Labour for taking ''entrenched positions'' during Thursday's Parliamentary debate on allowing the log salvage.

FICA's spokesman John Stulen said hundreds of temporary forestry jobs could be created in processing the fallen West Coast rimu forest where 20,000ha was flattened by Cyclone Ita in April.

Mr Stulen said his members' view was that politicians on both sides of the parliamentary chamber were arguing from entrenched positions and were ''completely missing the point about what has happened and how best to deal with the outcome'', he said.

''Don't confuse native forest protection principles with the need to clean up after a single adverse event.''

Federated Farmers West Coast provincial president Katie Milne said she was ''staggered by the rhetoric'' of the parliamentary debate and called for the ''natural calamity'' to be turned into jobs, if not new businesses.

''For heaven's sake, saplings need light to get away and being smothered by thousands of wind-thrown trees isn't going to help.

''Just leaving all those trees where they fell would be great for gorse, blackberry and any number of noxious weeds,'' she said.

Mr Stulen said with the recent ''log exports boom turning to a bust'' there were now plenty of logging workers in need of a job.

The West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Act, passed under urgency on Thursday, allows for the valuable native timber to be salvaged and used. The law change was needed because the Conservation Act had no provision for timber recovery following an extreme event.

''The devastated native forest can be salvage-logged and then replanted to help nurture and restore a protected native forest as once was there,'' Mr Stulen said.

However, Dr Margaret Stanley, an ecology senior lecturer at the University of Auckland, said while it might seem sensible to remove dead trees, they were a ''vital'' part of the forest ecosystem, The New Zealand Herald reported.

A rich biodiversity of species lived only on forest deadwood, and decaying wood acted as a ''slow release'' fertiliser, the main source of nutrients for new seedlings, she said.

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