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Forest & Natural Resource Letter To Sandra Lee

Forest& Natural Resource Consultants Letter To Sandra Lee

Dear Minister,

Your answer to a question in the House 27 March reads

Hon. SANDRA LEE: Can I assure the member that this Government's policy of removing 130,000 hectares of pristine area into national parks, as opposed to commercially logging them, does have the effect of protecting them, and is far more effective than the ACT party's policy of roasting kiwis on a Sunday in order to protect them. I suggest the conservation initiatives of this Government are more realistic and less surreal than any proposals we have seen from Mr Eckhoff thus far.

Setting aside Kiwi roastings, I am afraid you have been extraordinarily badly advised regarding your first point Ms Lee. Please allow me to explain.

Preservationists (as compared to "environmentalists" who actually give a damn about real environmental solutions) base their views on two false premises. They are these:

1. Preserves necessarily protect (ie removing extractive practices guarantees environmental health)

2. Human extraction from a forest ecosystem necessarily harms.

Regarding the first premise, NZ's record in conservation is appalling. Yet we have almost 35 % of our land in "preserves" which are manifestly degrading in biodiversity values, other than the 5% that have been properly protected by intensive pest control (and by that I do not mean broadcasting 1080, but targetted integrated pest management strategies). The reason for this decline is recognised by any ecologist worth his or her salt in NZ (see http://sems.auckland.ac.nz/Environmental_Issues/index.html). It is because of pests, not people. That is, preserves are NOT protecting our environment, and that first premise above is nothing more than a myth believed by the ecologically illiterate.

Unfortunately it is a myth continually promulgated by those either looking for votes from Urbanites who think Bambi is a close approximation to the relationship between humans and nature, or from some of those who call themselves "environmental organisations", who understand the attraction of such myths for their, frankly, cynical membership drives. They advocate for greater quantity of peopleless preserves, when the evidence is that we require a focus on the maintenance of the quality of ecological processes. Pests are not consistent with maintaining such an ecological quality because they prevent reproduction and recruitment through direct predation and competition for food, while harvesting trees WITHIN natural patterns of mortality IS consistent with maintaining such a quality. Yet many so-called "environmental" groups advocate removing human harvest before pests, even when such a harvest is associated with pest control.

Regarding the second false premise, Timberland's record is somewhat different from most of the DOC lands where TWC had practised what has been acknowledged as world standard ecologically-sustainable management, including sophisticated pest control. The bird counts in Okarito and Saltwater are rising (see http://homepages.caverock.net.nz/~bj/beech/pressrel/press9.htm). If that is any indication, ecologically-sustainable management has provided a better environmental outcome, along with a better economy and local society. This is a positive triple bottom line. That is, human extractive practices have not apparently harmed the ecological health of the forest, and may have enhanced that health, as well as providing for society and economy.

Your continued pursuit of a failed preservationist approach that excludes society from the environment, does nothing for either the environment, or for the hope that we as New Zealanders can all one day consider ourselves 'native' to this land. Being 'native' doesn't mean living apart from our environment; it means living within it, as a part of it. In short, the actions of the preservationists (who segregate culture from nature), whom you continually favour despite the realities that expose their premises as nonsense, are both anti-environment, and anti-people.

Your specific policies regarding the West Coast over the last few years have lead to a NEGATIVE triple bottom line: a poorer environment; a poorer society, and a poorer economy. You have also worked against the development of a sustainable environmental ethic, against consensus accords, and for the politics of the lynch mob by targetting a relatively defenseless rural community.

As Minister of Conservation, perhaps you might consider looking out beyond the politics, toward where we must head for a sustainable future for both people and the land.

Yours sincerely

Chris J K Perley

Chris Perley & Associates
Forest & Natural Resource Consultants PO Box 7116 Dunedin

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