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Scoop Photo Feature: Coast Action Network protest

Scoop’s Fraser Rolfe attended yesterday’s Coast Action Network protest in favour of native logging in Wellington and filed this photo feature report.

ACT MP Ken Shirley said Labour Leader Helen Clark has “sold out the West Coast” by proposing a logging ban, during yesterday’s Parliament protest.


KEN SHIRLEY - http://img.scoop.co.nz/stories/images/KenShirley.jpg - picture Fraser Rolfe

The Coasters urged a crowd of about 100 people not to vote for Labour, saying Helen Clark has listened only to “green fascists” by going back on the 1986 West Coast Forest Accord.

In 1986, the original Accord allowed Timberlands 17,200 cubic metres of native beech for woodchips. The Accord has been amended so a policy of single tree extraction is now in place.

Native Forest Action was nearby protesting in favour of a total ban on logging. Spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer warned the public not to take this "public relations stunt" at face value.

Mr Baigent-Mercer said, "West Coasters who may have the best of intentions are being co-opted to support parties that have policies which would have the most devastating effect on the forests and their community." He referred to the recent exposure of the Coast Action Network as a front-group for Timberlands West Coast Ltd.


NFA COUNTER PROTEST - http://img.scoop.co.nz/stories/images/NativeForest.jpg - picture Fraser Rolfe

One of ACT’s founding policies is that, “commercial activities are best performed by the private sector.” This applies to both native and exotic logging. Tasmanian-based timber company Gunns has already bought Carter Holt Harvey’s timber processing plant in Christchurch.

Coaster Therese Gibbens said their first battle is to be allowed to continue logging their forests. Should the resource be sold into private hands, Ms Gibbens said, “we will fight that battle when we come to it.”

Stephen Sheaf is a West Coaster of nine years. Mr Sheaf said the issue is wider than forestry. He believed sustainable logging was the best option for the coast and for the nation. He said loggers have an avested interest in keeping possum numbers low and timber quality high in working forests.

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