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Salvage Logging In World Heritage Area Declined

Proposals for the logging of an area of windthrown rimu trees in the South World Heritage Area near Haast have been turned down by Conservation Minister Sandra Lee.

"Windthrow is a natural process in a native forest, and part of the perpetual cycle of forest decay and renewal," said Ms Lee. "Conservation areas are protected so these natural processes can take place without human interference. This principle is at the very core of New Zealand's conservation legislation."

"Fallen logs also provide optimum sites for the regeneration of a number of indigenous species, they provide habitat for fungi, invertebrates and other decomposers who recycle nutrients within the forest. They are an essential part of the forest cycle."

"The Conservation Amendment Act 1996 inserted a concession clause into the section of the Act that clearly prohibits the taking of plants for wood, creating an unforseen and unintended provision allowing applications to be made to the Minister of Conservation for the taking of trees for wood," she said.

"In practice, I would have very little discretion and approval is unlikely to be forthcoming for the removal of the windthrown trees at Haast, as I would have to consider the adverse effects of this activity."

Ms Lee said she would be considering an amendment to the Conservation Act to clarify the original intent of the legislation.

She said that an interim policy has been adopted stating that the taking of windthrown trees from conservation areas will not be generally allowed.

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