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SOE wields deforestation chainsaw

SOE wields deforestation chainsaw

Green Media Release 11-6-08

The Green Party is calling on the Government to admit to being a major on-the-ground player in the worst deforestation in New Zealand's modern history.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's (MAF) National Exotic Forest Description Annual Report shows the loss of 13,600 hectares of forest last year, which is the largest deforestation in 50 years. On Radio NZ Morning Report today Agriculture and Forestry Minister Jim Anderton admitted most deforestation was caused by dairying and he defended the deforestation practice.

"What the minister should be focussing on is the government enterprise Landcorp being one of the worst offenders," party Co-Leader Russel Norman said.

"The chainsaw massacre has got worse in the last four years, with Landcorp a major player. A Landcorp partnership (the Wairakei Estate) is converting 25,000 hectares of pine plantations north of Taupo into dairy and drystock farming. Up to 20 industrial dairy units will eventually carry 30,000 cows (1).

"But we suspect government projects may have caused even more than this deforestation, especially if native scrub and bush-lots are added.

"We are trying to get the total number of hectares Landcorp is clearing around New Zealand and I would call on Mr Anderton to provide those figures today."

Such conversions marked a potential "triple whammy" on the environment as it destroyed carbon sinks and replaced them with dairy farming, which was one of the most greenhouse gas intensive forms of land use. Also Landcorp had a bad record of polluting streams and rivers as was evident with its cows in the Manawatu River, Dr Norman said.

"This morning, Mr Anderton called Morning Report co-host Sean Plunket `silly' for suggesting the Government was putting "bucks and business" ahead of the environment and the planet.," Dr Norman said. "But that's exactly what Mr Anderton and his colleagues are doing. They're sacrificing our grandchildren's future and our clean and green brand for short-term bucks."

(1) See: 4& pageno=1


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