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Timberlands exposes Government's hypocrisy

8 August 1999

Timberlands' new logging exposes Government's '100% pure' hypocrisy

The National Government has put its mark on Conservation Week this year by commencing unsustainable logging of a pristine, old-growth native forest, home to eight threatened wildlife species.

Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald said today that state owned enterprise Timberlands started logging the Orikaka forest north of the West Coast's Buller River about two weeks ago.

"Timberlands has started ripping the guts out of one of the country's most significant lowland forests at the same time that the Tourism Board has released its '100 Percent Pure New Zealand' campaign and when Conservation Minister Nick Smith is telling New Zealanders they should be looking after our unique bio-diversity," Mr Donald said.

"There's absolutely no reason to log that forest. No-one will die if the trees are left standing, but at least eight native wildlife species are threatened with extinction if they are logged."

Over 80 percent of the Orikaka forest is untouched, virgin bush. It is home to 26 native bird species, six of which, including the great spotted kiwi and kaka, are threatened. Two native fish species found there are also threatened. The Conservation Department rates the 6,450 hectare forest as having high conservation values and high density populations of the great spotted kiwi and kaka.

Mr Donald called on the Government to demand an end to the logging.

"If National is serious about bio-diversity and projecting New Zealand to international tourists as '100% pure' it must stop the destruction at Orikaka."

Mr Donald said the West Coast was fast becoming like a Hollywood set - there is a natural bush façade near the tourist routes and roads but the forests behind it are being destroyed.

He said the Buller logging would become an international embarrassment for the country and would severely undermine the new '100% pure' campaign.

"We intend to tell Green Parties throughout Europe, the United States and around the world of the Government's actions and the truth behind the Government's hypocritical tourism marketing."

Environmental lobby group Forest and Bird challenged the Orikaka logging in the Environment Court on July 27. A ruling has yet to be released.

Last week, more than 50 Green Party members and four candidates took direct action against Timberlands by digging up one of its West Coast forestry roads and planting it in beech trees.

"Timberlands must be stopped," said Mr Donald. "They are logging Orikaka for profits to support a glitzy public relations campaign and business junkets which are used to justify the destruction of New Zealand's lowland forests.

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