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Great day for forest conservation

15 May, 2000

MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Great day for forest conservation

Contact: Kevin Smith phone (04) 385-7374 work or (04) 934-2473 home

Forest and Bird has heralded the Government's decision to end the logging of publicly-owned West Coast rainforests as a great day for conservation.

Forest and Bird's conservation director, Kevin Smith, said New Zealand can now enter the 21st century with its head held high.

"The logging of rainforests on public land by a loss-making public business was a blot on our record that is now being removed."

Forest and Bird congratulated the Prime Minister Helen Clark for her key role in ensuring the Government delivered on the Labour and Alliance election pledges to end the logging.

"Helen Clark has set the Government on a green path we hope it will continue along."

Mr Smith also paid tribute to the efforts of Forests Minister Pete Hodgson, Conservation Minister Sandra Lee, Labour MP Jill Pettis, and the Green MPs Jeanette Fitzsimons and Rod Donald.

"These MPs have fought hard to achieve this great conservation victory. It is a landmark achievement of global significance for rainforest conservation."

Mr Smith said the Government decision had a sting in it for conservation.

"The highly destructive Orikaka forest logging will keep going until this year's contracted volume is felled, and the decision to delay the end to all rimu felling until March 2002 is an unfortunate concession to the rimu logging industry."

"However, when the March 2002 deadline arrives and the famous North Okarito forest and Saltwater forest can then be included in the South West World Heritage Area it will be a wonderful day."

Mr Smith said the West Coast community were also big winners as they received a $120 million package and would also get increased employment from nature tourism and nature conservation.

Forest and Bird paid tribute to the thousands and thousands of ordinary New Zealanders who had worked towards this outcome for the last thirty years.

"Hundreds of thousands of letters and submissions have been written, numerous meetings held, and seemingly innumerable deputations to meet MPs. It has all been worthwhile."

Forest and Bird said the focus in forest conservation would now shift to big problems with MAF's implementation of the Forests Act on private land, and to Maori land in Southland exempt from the Forests Act."

.... ends


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