25 Jun 2014

West Coast trees bill rushed through

5:40 pm on 25 June 2014

The Government is defending rushing legislation through Parliament to harvest some of the tens of thousands of native trees felled by high winds on the West Coast.

Dr Nick Smith.

Nick Smith. Photo: RNZ

Parliament will debate changes to the Conservation Act under urgency on Thursday to allow the trees to be logged before they are damaged by borer or rot.

Some 20,000 hectares of forest on private land and the conservation estate was devastated by the storm in April this year.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith said if those trees aren't harvested in the next few months, they will be worthless.

During question time on Wednesday, Green Party MP Eugenie Sage asked Dr Smith whether the Government was attempting to weaken conservation laws by rushing through the legislation.

Dr Smith replied he was all for saving live trees, but couldn't justify leaving so much valuable timber to rot.