[28 June/ Business Day]

The West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill was passed under urgency on June 26, in order to allow native trees blown down by Cyclone Ita in April to be salvaged from the conservation estate, which is believed to have 20,000 hectares of forest felled and 200,000 hectares damaged. Loggers will need to pay stumpage to landowners of approximately $250 per cubic metre of rimu and approximately $60 per cubic metre of beech for harvesting rights, on top of the removal costs, which are expected to be heavy as most of the wood will need to be removed by helicopter. Westco Lagan owner, Dean Sweetman said that since the logging of native forests effectively ended in the late 1990s, the market for rimu has died. Forest & Bird advocacy manager, Kevin Hackwell said that although making use of the wood seems sensible, the extra wood will impact the currently sustainable native timber industry. West Coast Member of Parliament, Damian O’Conner, also expressed concerns by saying that if 4,000 cubic metres of wood was injected into the market in one year, the market would collapse. However United Futures leader, Peter Dunne commended the fact that Parliament is enabling access to the wood, which would otherwise go to waste.