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Labour continues to tell Timberlands half truths

Media release - 4 February 2000.

Labour continues to tell only half the truth over timberlands

"Claims by the Ministers of Conservation and Forestry that Timberlands had to be stopped from managing beech because the forests have medium to high conservation value are a nonsense" says Chris Perley, a spokesperson for a group opposed to the government's abuse of science in relation to Timberland's beech management proposal.

"The ministers continue to claim the myth that use is incompatible with retaining high conservation values. They keep misinforming the public by suggesting that there can be either use OR protection. The ecological and practical evidence abounds that there can be wise use AND protection at the same time".

"It is a very damaging myth for the long-term enhancement of biodiversity" said Mr Perley. "In some overseas forests - such as areas in the Northern Adirondark State Forest of New York - the higher conservation values are in the forests that are managed, with the greatest diversity of habitat. " said Mr Perley.

"The same is likely to have resulted from the Timberlands proposal because habitat values were protected and predator control were to be instigated" said Dr Moller, a University of Otago Senior Lecturer in Conservation biology and member of the 'Conservation through Sustainable Use' lobby group.

The press release from the ministers claimed that a suppressed DoC report showed that 90% of Timberland's native forests had medium to high conservation values.

"This is not in dispute", said Dr Moller. "All habitats have conservation value, be they in a reserve or not. The Ministers have failed to show any scientific evidence or even suggest a mechanism by which the revolutionary style of harvesting proposed by Timberlands would have reduced rather than enhanced the conservation values of their forests."

"A survey completed by DoC at about the same time as the report referred to by Mr Hodgson and Ms Lee also concluded that cut-over indigenous forests which had subsequently been replanted in exotics, including eucalypts and pine, also had high conservation value" said Mr Perley.

"The Ministers have not released the documents, but if this is the same survey we know of, then the Ministers might as well suggest that no timber should ever be extracted from those pine forests. Perhaps they would also like to put the pine forests into a National Park?" suggested Mr Perley.

Dr Moller said that the rest of the world accepts that we can, and must protect conservation values while accommodating human use. "Apparently the Government is still taking advice from extreme preservationists who do not accept that fact. The Ministers would be better off by listening to some science and looking at overseas experience, instead of relying on the misinformation tactics of extremist preservationists who have a religious persuasion that human use should not occur even if it protects our wonderful biodiversity." said Dr Moller.

"As Minister of Science as well as Forestry we expect better from Mr Hodgson" said dr Moller.

"The debate will be well served if the Ministers instructed the Department of Conservation to immediately publish the "suppressed" report they refer to on their website.

"We would welcome such a move," said Mr Perley. "Those interested in sustainable forest management have nothing to hide."

Ends.

Chris Perley is a Dunedin-based forest and natural resource consultant with qualifications in forestry science, agricultural science, and philosophy. He has a background as a practising forester and a policy analyst, with special interests in sustainable land management, environmental philosophy and ecological economics. Contact Chris Perley on Ph 03 453 4948 or 025 880977.

Dr Henrik Moller has 22 years of experience researching conservation ecology and management, and 10 years of research in the beech forests like those proposed for ecologically sustainable management by Timberlands. He teaches conservation biology at the University of Otago and works in a voluntary capacity for the IUCN for its Sustainable Use Initiative. Contact Dr Moller on 03 4797991, 03 473 0024, or 025 2268688.


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