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Govt In Disarray Over Southland Logging

the Ecologic Foundation

Govt In Disarray Over Southland Logging, Says Ecologic Foundation

The Government appears to be in disarray over how to stop the unsustainable logging of Maori-owned native forests in Southland, the Ecologic Foundation said today.

The large-scale clearance of the virgin native forests has been continuing throughout the year and, in June, Ecologic revealed that some of the timber was being sold for firewood in the South Island.

Now, it is expected there will be an increase in logging of the forests, as a series of one-year logging moratoriums that covered 40% of the land begin to expire from October.

"Resolution of this issue is all about being fair to Maori and being environmentally responsible," said Ecologic's executive director, Guy Salmon. "If the Government cannot deliver on that, it will have a serious credibility problem."

He said the Government must come up with a settlement offer that would compensate the Maori land-owners for the potential value of these forests, in recognition that the land had been given as compensation in the first place.

The Government has already set a precedent for compensation, through the $120 million spent on closing down Timberlands' sustainable logging schemes earlier this year.

"The Government is between a rock and a hard place," said Mr Salmon. "It has blown much of its native forest budget on a less-significant issue, yet is now under increased pressure to achieve a fair resolution to this problem."

He said it was unlikely the Government's Maori caucus would accept any settlement that did not provide adequate compensation to land-owners.

For more information, please contact acting President of the Ecologic Foundation,
Lindie Nelson, at 03-548 8778.

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