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Forests Announcement Exposes Govt Double Standard

30 May 2001

"Stopping sustainable Timberlands forestry on the West Coast while turning a blind eye to the clear felling of Southland Maori forests and the importation of clear felled forest products smacks of double standard and hypocrisy," National's Conservation spokesman Nick Smith said today.

"The priorities are all wrong. Stopping the ongoing clear felling of lowland forests in the Catlins is of far greater conservation importance than stopping these forests being sustainably managed by Timberlands.

"Forests that are sustainably managed retain their national values, while clear felled forests are permanently trashed and lost forever. That is why National when in Government put its resources and effort into protecting the Waitutu and Lord's River forests rather than halting sustainably managed West Coast forests.

"The irony is that by stopping sustainable management of forests in New Zealand, imports have grown by over 50% resulting in the clear felling of forests in Africa and the Pacific. The Government seems to be applying the opposite of 'think globally, act locally' by adopting the 'not in my back yard' philosophy.

"The Government has contradicted itself in accusing Timberlands of trashing these forests, then stating they are so pristine they qualify for Reserve and National Park status. The fact that the forests, sustainably managed by Timberlands for over a decade, meet the ecological standards required by law is a testament of how well the forests have been managed by Timberlands.

"The irony is that the pest control by Timberlands has been more vigorous than in West Coast forests managed by the Department of Conservation and that the transfer is likely to see less birds like the kiwi and kaka survive.

"West Coasters will have every right to feel shafted by this Government. Labour and conservationists agreed to these forests being set aside for sustainable management in the 1980s in a trade-off for huge areas being set aside for conservation, but today the Government has reneged on that deal. The West Coast will never trust Labour again," Dr Smith said.

Ends


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