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Beech Scheme Think Big Disaster Of New Millennium

The Green Party has slammed the National Government's decision to proceed with a massive beech forest logging scheme on the West Coast just prior to the election.

SOE Minister Tony Ryall announced today that the Government has accepted the conclusion of the Board of Timberlands West Coast that the sustainable harvesting of the Crowns West Coast beech production forest is commercially viable.

"The National Government is demonstrating extraordinary arrogance in its dying days by allowing Timberlands to rip the heart out of New Zealand's last remaining lowland beech forests," said Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald.

"National's beech scheme will become the 'think big' disaster of the new millennium. "The statement from Tony Ryall is long on rhetoric but short on detail. While claiming the scheme will both generate jobs and be profitable to the Crown, no numbers are provided by the Minister.

"However the greatest tragedy with the beech scheme is that it will destroy forests, 80 percent of which the Department of Conservation has said deserve protection, just so the Government can look tough.

"The decision to allow logging to proceed is even more extraordinary in the light of the revelations contained in Nicky Hager's book about the way Timberlands has master-minded a million-dollar public relations campaign in favour of beech logging even though most scientific evidence and public opinion opposes it.

"The Government should be deeply embarrassed that it has been conned by Timberlands but, instead, it has become their main apologist.

"Claims that the trees will be harvested by helicopter ignores the fact that a massive roading infrastructure will need to be created for helicopter drop-off points. Talking about taking just one tree per hectare per year might sound minimal but it means 100,000 trees over the total forest area.

"The National Government is determined to turn pristine old-growth forests into timber farms. We will strongly encourage the Labour Party to stop this scheme from proceeding," he said.


ENDS

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