Figures released today on deforestation are nothing short of an environmental disaster, says National's Climate Change spokesman, Dr Nick Smith.
The 2007 Deforestation Survey, commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, shows a record 19,000 hectares of deforestation last year, amounting to the felling of millions of trees
The National Exotic Forest Description database records new forest plantings, forest harvesting, and New Zealand's total forestry area since 1951.
"Every year from 1951 to 2003 saw an increase in forestry by an average 40,000 hectares.
"Deforestation began in 2004 with 5,000 hectares felled, 11,000 hectares in 2005, and 11,000 hectares in 2006.
"It is no coincidence that deforestation started the year after the Labour Government decided to deny forest owners the carbon credits from their trees.
"Proposals to impose a deforestation tax further accelerated this chainsaw massacre. Landowners continued to deforest in order to avoid liabilities beginning on 1 January 2008, under the emissions trading scheme.
"This continuing record deforestation makes a mockery of Helen Clark's talk of carbon neutrality."
Click to download (Excel) new forestry plantings graph