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David Bellamy Toasts West Coast Win

Sunday 10 March 2002

David Bellamy Toasts Kiwi Conservationists' West Coast Win

NFA activists Dean Baigent-Mercer and Annette Cotter with Dr Bellamy

Today world-renowned ecologist Dr David Bellamy met with activists from Native Forest Action (NFA) in Hamilton to celebrate the campaign which saved 130,000ha of publicly-owned native forests from further logging.

"I extend my sincere congratulations to Native Forest Action, Buller Conservation Group and the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society for their tireless efforts towards protecting the outstanding West Coast forests", said Dr Bellamy. "The proposed logging would have degraded the forests which the logging lobby claimed it would protect through so-called sustainable management. The West Coast forests are unique biodiversity treasure-troves and are relics of the ancient landmass Gondwana”.

“Your government's decision to cease this logging and vest the forests in the Department of Conservation provides a great example to the world of the respect we should have for the natural environment", said Dr Bellamy.

"It is heartening to know New Zealand's environment movement is strong enough to overcome the likes of Timberlands' expensive anti-environmental PR campaign", said Dr Bellamy. "It is also reassuring that environmentalists lobbied the government successfully for a fair compensation package for the West Coast, while helping it see the good sense in protecting the region's forests".

Activists from NFA and the Buller Conservation Group began a campaign based on non-violent direct action in early 1997 with a tree-sit in Charleston Forest. This halted the logging of old-growth forest and brought the issue to international attention. "We literally put our lives on the line for these forests by perching seven storeys above the forest floor. If we hadn’t taken serious action the natural values of these forests would have been seriously degraded by Timberlands’ experimental industrial logging, pushing further already endangered species closer to extinction", said NFA spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer.

"We are anticipating all 130,000 hectares, covering 46 native forests, to be transferred to the Department of Conservation on 1 April 2002. These forests will be added to adjacent conservation lands, extending National Parks and World Heritage Areas. NFA is thrilled that the government is also backing a proposed new Maruia/Waiau National Park."

For further information contact: Dean Baigent-Mercer on 021-134-9750

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