Swamp kauri shambles continues with muddled maths

Further evidence that the Ministry of Primary Industries may have been negligent in its implementation of the Forests Act 1949, including confusing diameter and circumference measurements, means a moratorium on swamp kauri mining and exports is urgent, says the Green Party.

“The Green Party has no confidence in the Government and MPI's implementation of the Forests Act, or in its understanding of basic mathematical measurements. An urgent halt to exports is needed while an inquiry is conducted into the chaotic swamp kauri industry,” Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.

“The size of swamp kauri stumps that are legally allowed to be exported is based on the diameter of the tree. An offshore swamp kauri buyer's repeated statements that it is based on circumference measurements instead of diameter, suggests MPI may be allowing the export of ancient kauri stumps more than three times the size of what the Forests Act allows.

“MPI seems to be allowing the laws of the land and the laws of mathematics to be cast aside to allow widespread plunder, enabling a nineteenth century-style gold rush on swamp kauri.

“A kauri tree’s circumference is 3.14 times its diameter – as anyone who remembers being taught the meaning of pi at school will know – so it looks like the mathematical failure to correctly apply the law has led to the export of swamp kauri stumps 3.14 times the permitted size.

“Last week evidence surfaced of illegal exports of swamp kauri logs, with logs and rough sawn planks advertised for sale on Chinese, US, and Polish websites.

“As well as allowing exporters to get away with sloppy export documentation and pass off blatantly unfinished timber as finished products, there is also a question about whether MPI is applying the wrong measurement to increase the allowable size of stump exports.

“This muddled maths is likely to generate significant additional profits for swamp kauri exporters, given that the timber sells for up to NZ$5000 per cubic metre on international websites.

“Sustainable management is the purpose of Part 3 of the Forests Act, which controls indigenous timber logging and exports. The way MPI has allowed the swamp kauri industry to develop is anything but sustainable management.

“We urgently need a moratorium on further swamp kauri mining and exports to protect Northland's wetlands and a scarce and valuable resource from being trashed and sold off for quick and dirty profits,” Ms Sage said.

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