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46,000 sign anti-logging petition - Govt

A petition signed by 46,578 people against logging of native forests on Crown land shows there is plenty of public support for the Government's policy on native forests, Pete Hodgson said today.

Mr Hodgson, Minister of Forestry and Minister Responsible for Timberlands West Coast Ltd, accepted the nationwide petition today from organiser Susan Grimsdell. Mr Hodgson has agreed to present the petition to Parliament on Ms Grimsdell's behalf.

"Susan Grimsdell's achievement in collecting 45,000 signatures throughout New Zealand shows the strength of feeling New Zealanders have for their natural heritage," Mr Hodgson said.

"This country has only about 14% of its original lowland native forest left and a great many New Zealanders want the remainder protected. That is why a majority voted in last year's election for parties committed to stopping native logging in Crown forests.

"The Government is now keeping its pre-election promises. We have stopped the beech scheme. We are working through the legal issues involved with stopping rimu logging in Crown-managed forests.

"Susan Grimsdell's petition is a sign of the strong public support for the Government's native forests policy. We have the mandate to stop the logging and we are exercising it."

Ms Grimsdell is best-known for organising a petition against the proposed new Executive Wing of Parliament (the 'Parliamentary Palace') two years ago, when she collected 200,000 signatures.

Her forests petition, headed "Save our Beautiful West Coast Forests," says: "We the undersigned do not believe that logging 500 ancient beech trees a week is 'sustainable'. We believe that the future for the West Coast lies in tourism, not logging priceless forests, habitat of endangered birds. We want logging of native forests on Crown land stopped forever."

Graeme Speden, press secretary 04 471 9707 or 025 270 9055
Susan Grimsdell, petitioner 09 377 8789 or 025 974 372

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