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Ministers Mislead the Media on Timberlands


6 February 2000

Ministers Mislead the Media on Timberlands

The recent revelation from the Ministers of Conservation and Forestry that Timberlands forests had high to medium conservation values have again mislead the media. " says Roger May, a spokesperson for a 'Conservation through Sustainable Management' lobby group.

The report, an assessment of the Timberlands indigenous forest estate, was prepared by DoC using the criteria of the Nature Heritage Fund. However, Mr. May seriously questioned the validity of the approach and the conclusions.

"The NHF criteria have not been designed to make decisions about whether an area of the landscape should be used for productive use or not. They have simply been designed to make judgements on relatively small forest remnants competing for protection funding." he said.

He believes that although the conservation values embodied in the Crown's West Coast indigenous production forests may be high, it is another matter entirely for the Ministers to use this as a reason to exclude "productive use", particularly without applying a more thorough and robust assessment and consultation process.

"The commonly held assumption that "use" precludes the retention of a healthy, fully-functioning forest ecosystem is rapidly losing ground to the concepts of real conservation management which encompasses and integrates both protection and wise use and, given historic exploitation, often includes forest restoration." he said.

" New Zealand is currently suffering from the effects of policies based on the dichotomy of protection and exploitation and the evidence is all around us that these policies are simply not working." Mr May said.

He also questions the wisdom of transferring the Timberlands indigenous forests to DoC.

"Although the Department of Conservation has an excellent record for protecting specific species and habitats, it has yet to be shown that the Department of Conservation can manage the conservation estate forests sustainably. DoC do not hold the monopoly on good forest management." he said.

"It has been estimated that a minimum ten-fold increase in the current ($160M) DoC budget would be required for the all the existing conservation estate forests to be properly managed and it has yet to be shown that such expenditure of public money is economically sustainable." Mr May said.

He believes there are better approaches and methods available and it is time the government faced up to the reality of the ecological problems we face and the solutions which are at hand.

Roger May

Forestry and Landscape Ecology Consultant


Email rkmay@clear.net.nz

Phone/fax 03 5268719.

5th February 2000

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