Sensible resource extraction

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.  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.  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.  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.  In nature, logs don’t get taken away.

But at 2%, it is clearly an acceptably low amount of timber to take out.  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.

What’s left of the forest near Lake Brunner is the first to be picked over. There are about 300 tonnes of wood to be removed from the site, which is about 215 individual logs, helicoptered out one by one.

But down the road, instead of lifting whole logs out, another operator is milling his logs right on the forest floor, producing long rimu planks.

“This timber will go into the local industry on the West Coast and into the domestic market, so the opportunity is there for finished wood products, furniture, flooring,” says Alan Tinnelly of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The timber is being planed in Christchurch and shaped into high-grade rimu floorboards. That’s good news for the local market, as New Zealand native timber has been in short supply since the Labour government outlawed its extraction in 2002, and what little bits there have been around have struggled against cheaper imported timber.

Back in the forest there’s plenty to go around. Mr Dronfield estimates that only 1 percent of the fallen logs will end up being taken from the forest floor; the rest will be left to rot.

This is a great example where a National Government made a great decision.  It didn’t destroy the forest with greed, and it didn’t destroy the local economy by being Luddites.

Well done.

– 3 News


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  • cows4me

    Forest and Bird are only green Taliban with a pleasant sounding name. Most are ideological fruitcakes that seem to have the belief that they and only they know what’s best for “their” forests. I see selective milling of logs like selective big game hunting. The local people not only derive a living from a resource it’s also in their best interests to preserve this resource . Forest and Bird is based on an ideology not based on practicalities and common sense.

  • Bart67

    This was a common sense decision,quickly made, and expertly done. At the time, the hue and cry from the gweens and others on the left was something to behold. But what do we have? A few high value logs removed, the vast majority of the fallen timber remaining in the environment, and winners on all sides of the equation. The Greens and Labour would have shut this down! Learn from this, and remember!

  • Macca

    Yeah I’m certainly about the environment too but there has to come a time where people come before trees. It’s not as if these loggers are going in there and clear felling entire forests for them to turn into a barren and sightless eye sore – as the left would try and have us believe but hey, when have they ever exaggerated in the past?

    By saying people coming before trees, I mean there has to come a time where the financial survival of an entire region and nearly all its inhabitants must come before the select milling of a very small percentage of trees which have already fallen over and would otherwise rot.

    I still can’t believe how Labour weren’t pilloried for their stance on this by the West Coast locals and yet they still voted for them to boot! The Gweens are I can understand – they’re just con idiots! Once again the media were ‘guilty by silence’ when Labour were opposing the opportunity that National was exploiting for the benefit of the many.

  • Murray Smith

    Common sense prevails. What an amazing thing to happen in this day and age.

  • rua kenana

    The zero tolerance attitude of some people, groups and significant sections of the public is understandable given the the slash and burn attitude of NZ governments and forestry lobbying groups in the past, usually done without public consultation or even information about what was being done.
    Most of NZ’s millable forests are long gone. Is it now that those people and groups who value what is left, including what’s naturally fallen, are once again to be overridden by those who just want to make more money?
    Not a future I ever wanted to see for New Zealand. But what is one supposed to do? “C’est la vie” and carry on as usual, or alternatively exercise one’s democratic rights, even Forest and Bird and Greens have these even if National/Labour don’t always like it, and speak out as strongly as one is able to. Why criticize them for this?

  • Michael_l_c

    Originally I had concerns about the log removal. It wasn’t clear what was to be taken.
    To get a good balanced decision as this seems to be we need people on both sides of the fence.

    Taking a few percent of windblown trees is a win, win. Congrats all round.
    I hope a long term,100yr, study is done on how the forest reestablishes. As time progresses it could be a blueprint for management of similar natural events.

  • 1951

    It doesn’t matter if you leave logs there or remove them, either way Nature has her say in the long run. Either way is beneficial. The idiotologists of Forest & Bird are quite happy to drop trees to build state of the art clubrooms where they can Conspire in comfort but of course they are More Important, aren’t they.

  • LabTested

    This is how we do it in Auckland. I took this photo yesterday. a OSH inspectors wet dream .(Pic)

  • Keanne Lawrence

    Recovering only 2% is a crying shame when so much of this valuable resource was trashed by nature. Nature is the main limiting factor since the fallen trees will only remain usable for short time before only being good for firewood.

    It is always amusing that those opposed to selective logging or even the thought of a native tree being felled are most frequently choosing an area that has been cut over in the past as their example of pristine native forest.
    Many who object to the idea of selective logging remain in innocence of the true magnitude of the forest coverage in the South Island. It extends the length of the entire island from Farewell Spit to the southern tip and only interrupted by small pockets of civilization.

    Controlled selective logging could be carried out almost undetected by the bird and bug brigade and the end result would be greater areas of pristine native forest.
    While the protection of the forest continues and the natural cycle is the chosen option they seem less inclined to acknowledge that this process is a source of increased levels of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere. The greater good seems to be the needs of the forest at the cost of mankind.

  • Dexter

    Only 2%. This means the greens, by making such a fuss are winning the argument. Why not 10% or 20%? Or more…

  • andrewo

    “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”

    Wrong. It is a well understood science.

    • Canucktoo

      Agree the science is very well understood & documented. Two percent is a pittance & gummint should have allowed much more to be taken.

    • 1951

      Science is well understood yes, it usually has an agenda. Thank God, Nature has a mind of its own.

  • Canucktoo

    This forestry science has been well understood long before it became fashionable to hitch it to a ’cause’ such as the man-made climate change junk science. The North Americans, particularly the Canadians did a lot of work in this area in the early 80s.

  • Matt Pearce

    Well If there’s an issue with taking nutrients out of a forest system then why couldn’t operators extract and log and replace it with fertilizer or wood chip or whatever it is that they’ve taken??


    Wonder why Forest and Bird’s opposition against the ‘socialist dam’ in Hawke’s Bay suddenly seems to be okay???

  • twr

    I see here another example of “why bother voting National”. All the bans Labour put in place remain, and all they have to do it wait it out for a few more years till they get another chance to vandalise the country and our livelihoods.