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Viggo, Orlando, Sean take care with land purchases

December 2, 2003 – Wellington

MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE
Viggo, Orlando, Sean – take care with land purchases

Forest and Bird is urging Lord of the Rings stars to not pay excessive amounts for high country, lakeshore or coastal land. Stars, Orlando Bloom, Sean Austin and Viggo Mortensen have been reported as wanting to buy land in New Zealand.

“We appreciate their love of our country – it’s a very special part of the world. But we ask that they take care to ensure that their enthusiasm does not undermine the protection of these great landscapes,” Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell said.

“High land prices for high country or coastal properties make the purchase of land for conservation prohibitively expensive. The Nature Heritage Fund has been unable to keep pace with rising land prices. This means that less and less land is able to bought for conservation. As a result, New Zealand’s precious native plants and animals and spectacular landscapes are being put at risk,” he said.

“High land prices are also driving subdivision of coastal and high country land. This is destroying the wild and scenic character of these places,” he said.

“The huge prices that people such as Shania Twain, New York billionaire Julian Robertson and others can pay are inflating land prices. This makes it hard for DoC or other government agencies to buy back control of publicly-owned high country land for conservation and public recreation,” he said. “It also makes traditional land-use such as farming uneconomic, leading to much more intensive development and subdivision of these landscapes”.

“The government is reviewing the rules for overseas ownership of land. We urge the stars to show some restraint for the sake of the land they have come to appreciate,” he said.

ENDS

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