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Direction To Timberlands' Pleases Conservationists

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday 13 December 1999

DIRECTION TO TIMBERLANDS' PLEASES CONSERVATIONISTS

Conservationists have applauded the Government's direction to Timberlands West Coast Ltd to exclude beech logging from its business and withdraw its applications for resource consents for the beech scheme.

"This Christmas conservationists can celebrate the fact that the 25 year campaign to protect the magnificent beech forests and wildlife of North Westland, the Grey Valley and Buller is close to success," Forest and Bird field officer, Eugenie Sage said.

"Forest and Bird is delighted that the Government directive includes halting Timberlands' commercial scale "trial" beech logging in the splendid red and silver beech forests of the Maruia Valley.

"The Maruia logging, the equivalent of "scientific whaling" is occurring without resource consents in some of the most ecologically important of the forests Timberlands is currently responsible for," Ms Sage said.

"A Department of Conservation report describes the 13,000 ha Maruia forests as being "excellent quality, intact lowland and upland red and silver beech forest..." with "outstanding wildlife habitat values" because of the number and diversity of native bird species which the forests support. These include good populations of species threatened with extinction such as kaka, kakariki (parakeet), kereru (wood pigeon), South Island robin, morepork and the native long tailed bat.

"Proceeding with the resource consent hearings would have been a waste of time and resources," Ms Sage said.

"The timing of the consent applications and the hearings was always political, with Timberlands' wanting to attempt to push through the beech scheme as quickly as possible and to tie the hands of the incoming Government," Ms Sage said.

"If the hearing had continued and the Buller and Tasman District Councils had granted the consents it is likely that a number of parties would have appealed the decision to the Environment Court."

"Timberlands may have spent $150,000 on preparing for the hearing but its bulky application document and fancy web site could not disguise the many inconsistencies and information gaps in the application, nor the fact that beech scheme is not sustainable."

"Large, old trees above 70 cm in diameter are critically important for hole nesting and roosting species such as kaka, parakeets and native bats. The felling of so many of these bigger trees, as Timberlands propose, would substantially reduce the beech forests' wildlife habitat values and healthy functioning, and change natural forests into beech plantations."

ends

For further information please phone Eugenie Sage ph 03 3666 317 (wk) or 03 3371251 (home).


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