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DOC Report Confirms Timberlands Rimu Logging

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 4 February 2000

DOC REPORT CONFIRMS TIMBERLANDS IS LOGGING RIMU FORESTS OF HIGH CONSERVATION VALUE

Conservationists have welcomed the release of a 1997 Department of Conservation (DoC) report on the conservation values of Timberlands’ native forests. They say it confirms the importance of ending the company’s rimu logging, now that its beech logging has ended.

The report was released today by the Minister responsible for Timberlands, Pete Hodgson and Conservation Minister, Sandra Lee. The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society had long sought the release of the report under the Official Information Act, Forest and Bird field officer, Eugenie Sage said.

“The report highlights the tragedy of continued rimu logging in areas which have high values for conservation including the magnificent Orikaka forest in Buller, and North Okarito and Saltwater forests in South Westland,” she said.

“More than 90 % of the Timberlands’ native forests are ranked as being of being “high” or “medium” conservation value in the report. Forest and Bird sees it as vindication of the campaign to protect these forests.

“It is obvious now why the previous National Government refused to release the report. New Zealand can no longer justify logging such ecologically valuable ancient rainforests.

“Allowing the logging to continue for another eight years to satisfy Timberlands’ dubious September 1999 rimu contracts is not acceptable. It would mean the SOE’s intimidatory strong-arm tactics have worked,” Ms Sage said.

“Timberlands’ Buller logging is currently gutting the magnificent 6,400 ha Orikaka forest inland of Westport, which is more than 80% pristine, old growth forest. It is habitat for many threatened species including great spotted kiwi, kaka, parakeets, and giant land snail.

“Legal trickery by Timberlands last year made sure that its resource consent application to log Orikaka was not publicly notified. This meant there could be no public debate on the logging or any challenge in the Environment Court.

“Thousands of ancient rimu trees will be felled in Orikaka this year unless Government ends the heavy Buller logging and challenges the legitimacy of Timberlands’ September 1999 contracts.

“In South Westland Timberlands is mining North Okarito and Saltwater forests by removing the bigger, older trees crucial for wildlife, perching plants and forest structure. Logging is currently permitted within 500 metres of the Okarito Lagoon.

“North Okarito and Saltwater forests are the last remaining unprotected areas of glacial terrace rimu forests outside of Westland National Park. These forests are conservation treasures which deserve to be part of the national park and the South West World Heritage Area,” Ms Sage said.

“Rimu logging in South Westland provides few local jobs. Local mills closed long ago. The heavy-lift helicopter used by Timberlands is Taupo based, and the logs are trucked one and half to two hours north to Ruatapu or on to Christchurch for processing. This contrasts with successful tourism operations centred on the now protected areas of Okarito Lagoon and South Okarito and Waikukupa forests.

“The Whataroa based White Heron Sanctuary Tours now runs up to six trips daily to the colony during the season. At Franz Josef, Fox and Haast, accommodation, food, guiding, scenic flights, heli-hiking and other tourism businesses continue to expand,” she said.

ends

For further information please contact: Eugenie Sage phone (03) 3666 317 (work) or (03) 3371 251 (home).


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