Court costs and battle fatigue could force a Northland environmental group into recess after losing its fourth case fighting for tighter regulation of the swamp kauri trade.
The Northland Environmental Protection Society is buckling under the weight of more than $20,000 court costs awarded against it by the Appeal Court.
While it has lost all its court battles, in some ways the small society has won a war — by keeping the issue in the news and helping inform public opinion about the practice, NEPS president Fiona Furrell said.
"I believe we have punched above our weight," she said.
"This case might be the last thing we do but as a very small group with few resources, I feel we've achieved some good."
Mrs Furrell said the group was grateful to Auckland law firm Lee Salmon Long who took the appeal case.
The Court of Appeal has found in support of a High Court ruling earlier this year upholding the Ministry of Primary Industries' (MPI) interpretation of the Forest Act which allows the extraction, sale and export of swamp kauri and other indigenous timbers.
But the feisty NEPS will not go down without making a loud call for an overhaul of the Forest Act 1949.
Ms Furrell said the courts' judgments were based on interpretation of the current laws but it was time the Government rewrote the act.
''We've had excellent support from Winston Peters and NZ First over the years and now Eugenie Sage from the Greens is the Conservation Minister, something might be done.''
The Forest Act had been "deliberately" left outside the Resource Management Act, meaning only MPI had governance over it, she said.
Rules were tightened in 2015 but the NEPS has now taken MPI to court twice this year, saying stumps were being passed off as artworks and furniture in breach of the Protected Objects Act and the Forest Act.
As well, the society was concerned about the destruction of wetlands, wildlife and plant habitats during excavation.
A renewed Forest Act needed to encompass other conservation programmes, Ms Furrell said.
"That is urgent when we have kauri die-back spreading and yet living kauri is still being felled in Northland."
Minister of Forestry Shane Jones said the Government intended reviewing all aspects of exotic and indigenous forestry, including the Forest Act.
"The Prime Minister has made it quite clear she wants a review of our forestry that includes all timber strategies. We fully intend looking at what other things we can do better in the broader indigenous forestry space," he said.
That could include planting more native tree forests.