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Conservation Minister Urged To Come Clean

Bluegreens is an independent group of New Zealanders advising the National Party on environment and heritage issues.

Conservation Minister Urged To Come Clean About West Coast Forest Decisions

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee should come clean about the real reasons for completing the transfer this weekend of 130,000 hectares of native West Coast forest from Timberlands to the Department of Conservation. Terry Dunleavy, national convener of Bluegreens, said Ms Lee should admit that the transfer was all about winning votes in the 1999 election from gullible urbanites misled by Labour, Alliance and Greens propaganda about the true significance of the plans for Timberlands for sustainable management of a small portion of West Coast native forests.

"Ms Lee boasts about saving the forests from the chainsaw. What she and her government put an end to was the removal by helicopter of one aged tree per hectare per year, in a practice known as sustainable harvesting. That one tree per hectare per year, from 130,000 (7.2 per cent) of the 1.8 million hectares of native forest on the West Coast, was sufficient to guarantee sustainability of growth and pest control in those forests, employment for many Coasters and for furniture makers in the rest of the country," said Mr Dunleavy. "It was an example of sustainable management at its practical and commonsense best, but it was sacrificed for political purposes."

Mr Dunleavy said the country should be reminded that one of the first acts of the Labour/Alliance coalition was to instruct Timberlands West Coast Ltd to withdraw its application for resource consent for its sustainable forest management plans, thus removing the likelihood that those plans would have received the stamp of approval from the Environment Court. "The extent of the Government's guilt feelings in this matter can be gauged by its godfather offer of $120 million of other New Zealanders' tax money to the West Coast in a bribe which continues to be condemned by many leading Coasters," said Mr Dunleavy.

"Minister Lee should climb down from her Bambi-like rocking horse, and admit that rather than tomorrow being a day of celebration, it is a day of shame for all New Zealanders dedicated to true sustainability and the inter-action of people in the sustainable management of the flora and fauna which are our natural heritage," said Mr Dunleavy.

Ends

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