The major problem with resource extraction such as previous metals, fuel and wood is that the opponents such as Forest and Bird, the Green Taliban and often also Labour take a zero tolerance stance. Â That leaves no room for negotiation, and even in the event some initiative is quite sensible, they continue to try and sabotage any economic progress for the area and the country on the basis that the only outcome should be to leave everything just as it is.
I have a personal affinity with New Zealand’s native forests, and don’t like the idea of selective logging. Â The ecosystems of those areas aren’t understood the the point where we can just start picking the eyes out of healthy forests and expect it to recover.
But nature sometimes gives a helping hand.
Helicopters have started salvaging some of the native timber blown over by Cyclone Ita on the West Coast in April.
The storm destroyed thousands of hectares of forest, and over the summer hundreds of valuable rimu logs are being recovered from bush land near Lake Brunner to be made into flooring and furniture.
Each log is worth about $5000, but once milled and processed they can be worth eight times that.
“It’s strictly taking very small percentages of the highest-value timber out,” says Jon Dronfield of New Zealand Sustainable Forest Products. “The economics of helicopter logging are pretty high. It’s an expensive business but it works for a high-value timber like this.”
While the logs have been expertly cut to size, there were no chainsaws involved in their felling; they were flattened by Cyclone Ita in April that blew over hundreds of thousands of trees, potentially 5 million tonnes of native timber.
Instead of letting it slowly rot on the forest floor, the Government pushed through new legislation allowing a tiny proportion of it, just 2 percent, to be extracted over the next five years.
Letting timber drop and rot away is part of the life cycle of the forest floor. Â The argument that all (usable) logs should be extracted is akin to starting a sequence of events where the forest will not recover from the windfall. Â In nature, logs don’t get taken away.
But at 2%, it is clearly an acceptably low amount of timber to take out. Â Especially since they will only need to take the commercially viable logs, and the ones that would normally be turned into firewood and woodchip are left to be part of the life cycle.