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End Of State Sponsored Logging A Conservation Gain

End Of State Sponsored Logging And Protection Of West Coast Native Forests Is Major Conservation Gain

The end of state sponsored native forest logging anywhere in New Zealand and the protection of forests formerly managed by Timberlands West Coast Ltd is a landmark for conservation, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society says.

"It is a splendid initiative by Government to add 9,541 ha North Okarito and Saltwater Forests to Westland/Tai Poutini National Park, increase Reefton's Victoria Conservation Park by 28,000 ha add 7,400 ha to Paparoa National Park, 900 ha to Kahurangi National Park and create a series of new ecological areas, scenic and other reserves," Forest and Bird president, Dr Gerry McSweeney said.

"These magnificent temperate rainforests and landscapes are a biological treasure-house for all New Zealanders.

"Thousands of New Zealanders who have written submissions and letters, run stalls, organised petitions, and attended meetings during the last 30 years can be proud of what they have achieved by speaking out for the forests' protection," Dr McSweeney said.

"The history the West Coast forests' campaign has been one of conservation organisations and the public having to persuade successive governments to recognise what is being lost by logging. Over 30 years the strength of public feeling has progressively silenced the chainsaws on public land," he said.

"Milestones have included the 341,160 signature Maruia Declaration in 1977, abandonment of early versions of the beech scheme in 1978, the National Government's protection of South Okarito and Waikukupa forests in 1981, the West Coast Accord in 1986 which protected more than 100,000 ha of forest, and the Labour Government's protection of South Westland forests south of the Cook River in 1988 and their subsequent nomination for World Heritage Status.

"Present and future generations will be grateful for the Labour/Alliance's Government's prompt action in stopping Timberlands' beech scheme in December 1999, phasing out logging, and now protecting 130,000 ha of rimu and beech forest as national park, reserves, and conservation land," he said.

Dr McSweeney said Forest and Bird wished Timberlands West Coast Ltd every success in its management of West Coast plantation pine forests.


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