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Bleak Day For Rainforest Conservation

Conservationists have today condemned the Government's decision to begin a major beech logging programme in 100,000 hectares of publicly owned West Coast lowland rainforest.

The Forest and Bird Protection Society's Conservation Director, Kevin Smith, said that National was dragging New Zealand back to the bad old days of the 1970s when governments backed native forest logging interests and ignored the needs of threatened species and threatened lowland forest habitats.

"This is a huge logging scheme that will see over 80,000 beech and rimu trees being felled each year, with many kilometres of new roads being bulldozed into the primaeval forests."

Mr Smith said Government claims the logging was sustainable had absolutely no scientific credibility.

"New Zealand's foremost forest and wildlife ecologists gave these ambitious logging plans the thumbs down in submissions last year. The logging will do irreparable harm to these great forests and their dependent native wildlife."

Forest and Bird said it was a sad day for New Zealand that the Government's key new initiative as we enter the next millennium is to set about wrecking 100,000 hectares of rainforest.

"We asked the Government to save the kiwi as New Zealand's premier millennium project. Jenny Shipley refused to meet with us and has instead taken Timberlands' advice and backed rainforest logging as National's big millennium initiative."

Mr Smith said the spotlight was now on Labour who have been presented with a golden election opportunity to win over the 90% of New Zealanders who wish to see native forests saved and not logged.

......ends

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