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Timberlands marks Conservation Week with logging

Timberlands marks Conservation Week with new logging

Conservationists have condemned the commencement of logging in Buller's Orikaka Forest by Timberlands West Coast Ltd.

"Timberlands' logging makes a mockery of this year's Conservation Week theme of "Turning the Tide" on the decline of New Zealand's native plant and animal species," Forest and Bird field officer, Eugenie Sage said.

"If the decline in our indigenous biodiversity is to be slowed, then major changes are needed in the Government's approach to native forest management. The huge loss of lowland forest in New Zealand has had tragic consequences for native plants and wildlife. Outstanding areas of lowland forest such as Orikaka containing a brace of threatened species need to be protected not logged," Ms Sage said.

"The 6,450 ha Orikaka Forest is lowland beech/podocarp forest on the north bank of the Buller River. It has not previously been logged by Timberlands and logging has only begun here within the last two to three weeks. Eighty-five per cent of Orikaka forest is pristine unlogged forest which provides habitat for at least 26 native bird species including six bird and two fish species threatened with extinction.

Threatened species present include great spotted kiwi, South Island kaka, kakariki (parakeets), western weka and wood pigeon/kereru, and two native fish species: short jawed kokopu and koaro."

"The Department of Conservation has assessed Orikaka Forest as having "high conservation value" and the populations of great spotted kiwi and kaka are regarded as nationally significant because of their relatively high densities," said Ms Sage.

Forest and Bird has challenged the logging of Orikaka Forest in the Environment Court. The Society has sought a Court ruling under the Resource Management Act on whether Timberlands has the resource consents it needs to log Orikaka Forest and four other Buller forests. The case was heard on 26 and 27 July 1999 and the Environment Court has yet to release its decision.

"Timberlands' action in starting to log without waiting for the Environment Court's decision highlights the SOE's arrogance," Ms Sage said.

"Timberlands should stop logging until the Court makes its decision."

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