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Govt Urged To Ignore Anti-Conservation Ministers

Native Forest Action
Media Release
14 May 2000


Native Forest Action has urged the Government to pull state loggers out of the Okarito and Saltwater Forests in South Westland when it makes its decision on West Coast rimu forests tomorrow. It says every extra month of logging in these national park-standard forests robs the country's natural heritage.

Spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer said that the group was concerned that the Government's native forest conservation policy was being driven by Ministers who were unsympathetic to protecting the forests.

"We don't understand why Michael Cullen and Jim Anderton, after offering $120 million of public money to Coasters to ensure protection of these forests, are now pushing the government in an anti-conservation direction."

"It will be very sad if some of Okarito and Saltwater are sacrificed for timber production because Ministers have yielded to industry lobbying."

"Overall we are pleased that the West Coast forests are going to be protected but if they are worth protecting then it is worth stopping the logging now. We of course would not want to see people lose their jobs, but we believe there are already alternative timber supplies that do not necessitate logging thousands more trees from high value forests."

"Okarito and Saltwater are the best of Timberlands forests. A 1997 officials report prepared for then Prime Minister Jim Bolger identified Okarito and Saltwater as the most likely forests to qualify for protection in any review of Timberlands forests. We urge Labour and the Alliance to pull the logging gangs out of these forests immediately."

For more information contact: Dean Baigent-Mercer 04-383-5168

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