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Nats can't see the forest for the dollars

25 August 2005

Nats can't see the forest for the dollars

National's reported proposal to lift the ban on logging native forests on public land would do far more long-term damage to New Zealand than any short-term profit to be made in such exploitation, Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

National Forestry Spokesperson Brian Connell has said his party is in favour of allowing logging on West Coast DOC land outside national parks to be resumed because to do otherwise is a "waste of a perfectly good resource".

"Brian Connell's statement shows that he sees forests only as an economic resource. He can't see the trees for the wood," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"Timber is only one of the values of our native forests, which we have exploited almost to extinction. After a thirty-year battle, the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders had decided by the turn of the century that the remnants of our publicly-owned native forest on public land should be preserved for their ecological, biodiversity, habitat, scenic, heritage, and tourism values.

"In future, native timber should only come from newly planted and sustainably harvested native forests.

"When you hear crazy proposals like this, you have to wonder whether the National Party has any idea about what makes New Zealand special. People come from all over the world to experience those of our landscapes that are largely intact. The importance of preserving the West Coast environment for the whole of humanity is recognised in the World Heritage Site status of its southern end.

"The world has moved on a lot since the ban on beech logging on the Coast was introduced in 1999. Mitigating climate change and preserving biodiversity are now front-and-centre in the minds of people everywhere and New Zealand would risk irreversible damage to its reputation and its ability to do its ecological duty if such a proposal went ahead.

"Mr Connell should therefore recognise that, even as an economic resource, the trees in the ground are giving us far greater return right now than we'll ever get from cutting them down," Ms Fitzsimons says.


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