Conservationists Welcome Labour Party Assurance
Native Forest Action
Sunday 7 November 1999
CONSERVATIONISTS WELCOME LABOUR PARTY ASSURANCE THAT WEST COAST RIMU LOGGINNG WILL BE ENDED
Conservation groups have welcomed an assurance from the Labour Party that it intends, if in government after the elections, to end rimu logging on the West Coast as soon as possible. Michael Cullen and Pete Hodgson sent a letter to various conservation groups this weekend stating that - contrary to publicity at the end of last week - the party has not accepted another eight years of rimu logging. The letter states that while committed to honour legal contracts, the party "will seek to end the logging at the earliest practicable date".
Native Forest Action spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer said that the group had been shocked by news reports that Labour would allow another eight years of native logging in the public forests. "We sought clarification from Labour on Friday and are relieved that they have specifically assured conservation groups that they intend to end the logging as soon as possible."
On last Thursday Michael Cullen commented that rimu logging contracts signed up by Timberlands just days before Labour's policy announcement in September appeared to be legally binding (in contrast to much looser beech logging contracts quickly signed at the same time). The Labour Party letter clarifies that, while the rimu contracts may be more carefully drafted, the party none the less wishes to find a way to end the logging.
"The contracts that Timberlands signed to force the next government to continue their rimu logging may well be legal, but this doesn't mean there are not legitimate ways to get out of continued logging".
"We believe that the public deserves a clear choice on native logging in the elections. It is now clear that a government made up of the Labour, Alliance and Green parties would have the political will finally to end logging of West Coast native forests, while National, ACT and NZ First would support an expansion of the logging."
"Any continued rimu logging by Timberlands will be centred on the best forests, with over half the timber coming from the outstanding forests on the shores of Okarito Lagoon. Any logging in these forests is highly controversial and the sooner it ends the better."
For further information contact: Dean Baigent-Mercer 04-383-5168