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Tribute to promoter of wilderness areas

17 December 2001 Media Statement

Tribute to promoter of wilderness areas

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee today pledged her department's commitment to designating new wilderness areas, where appropriate, throughout New Zealand.

Ms Lee said she had set the Department of Conservation a target of gazetting at least two new wilderness areas in the next 12 months.

She said today's launch by the Department of Conservation of the publication The State of Wilderness in New Zealand had taken place on the anniversary of the death of a contributor, conservationist Bing Lucas, as a tribute to him. He died last year on 17 December.

"Bing Lucas made a significant contribution to the establishment of wilderness areas in New Zealand," said Ms Lee. "He also played an international role through his involvement with the IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas."

"We can best honour the legacy of Bing Lucas by continuing to progress the protection of wilderness areas. That is what he would have wanted from us, and it is how we can ensure that his vision will live on.

"In today's fast-paced society, wilderness areas showcase nature at its best, and offer solitude, natural quiet, and a chance to be in an environment free of the worst trappings of modern-day living.

"We need to strike the right balance between ensuring that people can enjoy our country's natural and historic heritage, and preserving it. There are many opportunities for New Zealanders to experience conservation in the outdoors.

"We also have protected areas, where activities that might impact on the environment are restricted. At the far end of that scale are our wilderness areas, where natural values are maintained so that people can experience true wilderness."

Ms Lee said the Department of Conservation had gazetted Olivine Range in Mount Aspiring National Park as a wilderness area. A wilderness area in Southern Fiordland had been proposed in the draft Fiordland National Park management plan, while a Southern Wilderness area was being suggested for Rakiura National Park, which is being established next year.

She said other proposals are for two wilderness areas on the West Coast, one in Paparoa Range and the other in the mid Southern Alps. A proposal to establish a wilderness area at Ruakituri was notified for submission in Te Urewera National Park draft management plan. Submissions have just closed.

"While the Department is the central government organisation tasked with preserving our natural and historic heritage, I also encourage users of the outdoors to be aware of and appreciate the special place wilderness plays in our environment," Ms Lee said.

ENDS

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