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High Country Package Good News For Farmers

June 1, 2004 – Christchurch

MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

High country package good news for farmers

Forest and Bird welcomed the Government's high country package announced today and said it would lead to better management of high country conservation lands and could improve outcomes from tenure review.

"It's good to see the Government committing to increased pest and weed control on the high country land returned to full public ownership. There are major pest and weed problems in the high country - Department of Conservation efforts to control them will please conservationists and farmers alike," Forest and Bird's Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell said following the launch.

"New money to speed up the tenure review process is also welcome and will create certainty for farmers. However a faster process will put enormous pressure on public interest groups such as Forest and Bird, Federated Mountain Clubs, the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects and the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of New Zealand. We are already over-stretched," he said.

"The involvement of public interest organisations is critical to successful tenure review. They often identify important conservation areas and public access needs that can be missed by government departments. Failure to adequately involve NGOs could cause irrecoverable mistakes leading to the destruction of important habitats and the exclusion of the public from its own land," he said.

"We hope the package will be used to protect habitats of high conservation value on the valley floors and lower slopes. To date tenure review has tended to protect the high mountain ranges while allowing the destruction of special wetlands and shrublands on the valley floors," he said.

Contact: Kevin Hackwell, Conservation Manager, 04 385 7374 (w)

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