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Alison Watson
Ministry of Agriculture
PO Box 2526
WELLINGTON

Submission on Forestry

31 March 2006

The Pacific Institute of Resource Management is a non-Government Organisation working since 1984 to promote the conservation of the natural environment and the sustainability of human communities. It has a subscribing membership of 450 and publishes a journal, ‘Pacific Ecologist’, with a readership of 4000. The Institute applauds the development by the Ministry of policy to address illegal logging and associated trade activities. We are very concerned that illegal logging activities threaten the ability of communities in less developed countries to be sustained by the local biodiversity that has provided their economic and cultural foundations for generations. We wish to offer whatever support and assistance we can to help eliminate illegal and environmentally detrimental logging.

Submitter: Cliff Mason

Organisation’s Name: Pacific Institute of Resource Management

Confidentiality not required

  1. We strongly support the five over-arching goals for the proposed policy with the following qualification:

The wording of the goals requires amendment. At present Goals 1, 2 and 3 by including the phrase “working/contribute towards” emphasise merely participation in a process rather than achievement of a desired end. A Goal should unequivocally state the desired outcome.

Suggested rewording to express actual goals are as follows:

Goal 1: To find practical means to stop illegal logging through work with international agencies.

Goal 2: To establish strong regional measures to stop illegal logging and associated trade.

Goal 3: To strengthen bilateral arrangements with interested countries on illegal logging and related trade issues.

Goals 4 and 5 are satisfactory as they stand.

One Goal that is omitted and which truly overarches the present five is suggested for inclusion:

To ensure that all forest products used in New Zealand are sourced from sustainably managed forests.

  1. The objectives under each policy goal are achievable if adequately resourced and politically supported. We are particularly pleased to see acknowledgement of the limited capability of many developing countries to control logging activities and the proposal to address this by endeavouring to keep compliance mechanisms few in number and simple in construction.
  2. The proposed policy acknowledges that “consumers have the most powerful and important role in addressing illegal logging and related trade.” We submit that the presence of a market in New Zealand for unsustainably/illegally logged products should not depend upon decisions of individual consumers. There is already a burdensome role put on the general public to take responsibility for biosecurity, fair trade and a host of other concerns. It would be preferable if it could be assured that not only New Zealand-sourced forest products are legal and sustainable but that all products available for purchase in this country are also. The task of ensuring this is the case should be a major role of the Ministry and its agents. Prohibiting the importation of illegally produced forest products is a simple and effective measure, which should be taken immediately. Only by ensuring that New Zealand is not a consumer of illegal forest products can we have any real standing in international fora seeking to stop illegal logging and its sequelae.
  3. The proposed approach emphasises legality of logging while acknowledging that many countries have limited ability to ensure laws are complied with. As legality is also defined by the sovereign nation from which timber is produced, there is considerable scope for “legal” logging to encompass much forestry that is ecologically and socially damaging. New Zealand should therefore strive to ensure that logging is not merely legal but is also truly sustainable. This aim for sustainable logging practice should be more explicit in the wording of the final policy, especially in its expressed major goals. We should ensure that bilateral and wider trade agreements incorporate adequate provisions to support our exclusion of illegal/unsustainable forest products from our local market and that these provisions are effectively used to that end. Although there should be no technical difficulties if local and imported materials are subjected to the same requirements, there may be a requirement for some delicate but resolute work by the MFAT to ensure that the problem of environmental standards as trade barriers does not leave us forced to play a role in the destruction of ecosystems and societies.
  4. We have very good international standing in this field and by continuing to represent a resolute position untainted by excessive national interest and with a clean slate vis--vis the use of illegal products, we can be a major force in the curbing and ultimate elimination of illegal logging in the Asia-Pacific Region and the wider world.

The Institute wishes to be added to the illegal logging information email list and to be included in any appropriate focus group.

Cliff Mason
26 Durham Crescent
Epuni
LOWER HUTT

Email: cliff.mason@huttvalleydhb.org.nz, cc: cmason@norpath.co.nz

Thankyou for the opportunity to make this submission.

Pacific Ecologist