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Locking Up Natural Resources

ACT Environment Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff says the drive to remove farmers from the high country has received a fresh impetus with the visit of a Russian botanist to speak at a Mountain Lands Conference in Dunedin this weekend.

"High country farmers will see Professor Onipckenko as an agent provocateur. They have battled for years against the combined strength of the Department of Conservation, Forest and Bird and the Department of Botany at Otago University. No doubt the litany of overgrazing and mismanagement will be trotted out yet again. The anti-production sector clearly believes that if you repeat misleading statements often enough people will believe they are true.

"It is sad that the presence of Sir Edmund Hilary will be used to give credibility to a talkfest that aims to lock up even more of New Zealand's natural resources.

"Tenure review is well under way and is returning much of the high country to Crown control.

"If 'global warming' occurs as predicted then so much of potentially valuable summer grazing country will be lost as the growing season above 100 metres increases the grazing of the low country lessens through drought. The loss of productive capacity in this way is regrettable.

"Perhaps the speakers will be able to enlighten the public about why the weed hieracium can be found in our national parks where no grazing or burning or management has occurred.

"Make no mistake this conference is all about preservation of a tussock grassland monoculture and not about biodiversity.

"The only positive is that public money will not be wasted, as the Hellaby Trust, for which professor Alan Mark is a trustee, appears to be funding the exercise by driving a wedge between production and conservation," Gerry Eckhoff said.


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