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Transfer Honours Promise To Protect Native Forest

Final Transfer Honours Promise To Protect Crown-Managed West Coast Native Forest

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Conservation Minister Sandra Lee today announced the final transfer of the West Coast native forest formerly managed by Timberlands West Coast to the Department of Conservation, and into the conservation estate.

Helen Clark said the transfer next Monday (1 April) will give effect to the government's decision last year to declare 130,000 hectares of TWC forest as public conservation land.

"The final transfer gives me great personal satisfaction as it marks the honouring of an election promise by the parties in the Labour-Alliance coalition to end the logging of crown-managed indigenous forest," Helen Clark said. "It is an historic conservation milestone. The West Coast is blessed with some of the finest rainforests and wild landscapes found anywhere in the world."

"The transfer of the 130,000 hectares of indigenous forest is the biggest addition to public conservation land since DOC was established in 1987," she said.
"I want to pay tribute to the dedicated conservationists who campaigned for many years for the protection of these forests. After thirty years of public debate, this land is secure from logging for all time.

"I also want to acknowledge the assistance of the Papatipu Runanga of Poutini Ngai Tahu, Te Runaka o Kati Waewae and Te Runanga o Makaawhio, who have been comprehensively supported in this transfer process by Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu."

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee said of the 130,000 hectares being transferred to DOC management, nearly 18,000 hectares was being added next Monday to the Kahurangi, Paparoa and Westland/Tai Poutini National Parks.

She said the remaining 112,000 hectares is distributed across the classifications of ecological area, scenic and scientific reserves, wildlife management, amenity, and conservation area and conservation park.

"Adding the most significant of these important lowland forests to existing National Parks immediately gives them the status they deserve and contributes significantly to international rainforest conservation.

"Rich biodiversity and native wildlife will be protected for the enjoyment of New Zealanders and international visitors. These decisions are taken in the interests of maintaining our biodiversity for future generations.

"A highlight for me is the addition of the outstanding North Okarito Forest to the Westland/Tai Poutini National Park. The park will be further enhanced in future as the New Zealand Conservation Authority has recommended to me that 3000 hectares of existing conservation land surrounding North Okarito also be added to the park. I have accepted that recommendation."

Ms Lee said that the West Coast region benefits greatly from the sustainable development made possible by the management of native forest for conservation, recreation, and tourism.

"I consider this transfer to be one of the greatest achievements of my time as Minister of Conservation," Sandra Lee said. "It complements our government's continued commitment to reverse the decline of our native species."


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