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New Federated Mountain Clubs President takes up

New Federation President takes up

Invercargill, 6 September 2012 - Well known Southland tramper and outdoors advocate, Robin McNeill, is the new president of the Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand - the national umbrella group for New Zealand tramping and mountaineering clubs, representing over 16,000 trampers and climbers. He takes up the position this week after Richard Davies stood down to work for the Department of Conservation. Mr McNeill, aged 54, is known in outdoor circles as the editor of the authoritative Fiordland tramping guidebook, Moir's Guide South and for rewriting the best-selling Safety in the Mountains, launched last month.

A keen tramper, and occasional hunter and mountaineer for over 35 years, Mr McNeill loves the backcountry, but fears for its future.

McNeill says families and those new to the outdoors are at risk of losing use of backcountry huts and tracks through DOC's underfunding. "The Great Outdoors is part of every New Zealander's heritage and should not be disposed of through expediency", he warns. "What remains of our natural environment is also under dire attack from predators, but the public has yet to grasp the urgency or scale of what is at stake".

A long-time member of the New Zealand Alpine Club and the Southland Tramping Club, Mr McNeill has also served on the Southland Conservation Board since 2003, where he has taken a special interest in developing the Fiordland and Rakiura National Park Plans. From participating in this work he is adamant that the proposed Hollyford-Dart tunnel and Snowden Forest monorail projects should not go ahead.

"They fly in the face of commonsense, they will deface the natural landscape, they mock statutory plans and the process to date attacks the core of democracy", he said.
But if the situation is bleak, Mr McNeill remains upbeat.

"FMC is in good heart and will keep these important issues before the public. And the public are waking up to what is at stake, as the anti-mining marches last year showed. We have the most magnificent tramping and mountaineering opportunities to be found in the world and it’s still there to be enjoyed. I want to ensure our grandchildren will be able to enjoy the same beauty and the wild of our unique natural heritage as my generation of trampers".

ENDS

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