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Huge Timberland's Blot on Nats Environmental Rec

Forest and Bird media release for immediate use

15 October 1999

Huge Timberland's Blot on National's Environmental Record

Contact Kevin Smith 04 934 2473 until 7pm

The National government's environmental record has been severely blotted by its endorsement of SOE Timberlands West Coast's actions in rushing through logging contracts over West Coast beech forests according to the Forest and Bird Protection Society.

Forest and Bird's conservation director Kevin Smith said today that Timberland's issuing of the contracts in a bid to pre-empt an election outcome favourable to conservation struck a blow at the democratic process.

"The Government has some explaining to do. How has a heavily-subsidised, poorly performing government business been able to try and tie the hands of an incoming government and condemn to the chainsaw tens of thousands of hectares of ancient rainforest?"

"The government has clearly lost control of its own logging business when the Minister for State Owned Enterprises Tony Ryall lamely admits he knew nothing about the contracts until after they were signed."

Mr Smith said Timberlands' actions were financially reckless as the private company now holding the contracts would inevitably make a claim for extensive compensation in the event of a change of government.

"Compensation positioning behaviour has been a standard ploy by some South Island native logging interests over the last ten years. But it defies belief to see a government-owned business setting a private company up for compensation claims on the taxpayer."

"National's tolerance of Timberlands' extraordinary manoeuverings and their repeated defence of the subsidised logging of publicly-owned rainforests is erasing the the environmental credits their green ministers Simon Upton and Nick Smith have worked to achieve."

Mr Smith said Forest and Bird applauded Labour for its determined resolve to protect the West Coast beech rainforests and their dependent threatened wildlife menaced by Timberlands' logging.

"The future of the West Coast does not lie in the logging of ancient rainforests but in plantaion forestry, farming, fishing, tourism, outdoor recreation and conservation."

Ends

Kevin Smith Conservation Director Forest and Bird Protection Society PO Box 631 Wellington New Zealand ksmith@wn.forest-bird.org.nz ph 04 3857374 fax 04 3857373 www.forest-bird.org.nz


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