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National Back-Down On Forests Amendment Bill

The Forest and Bird Protection Society has welcomed the Government's decision not to proceed with the Forests Amendment Bill before the election.

The Bill, which would have removed the ban on the export of native woodchips and logs, has been strongly opposed by conservationists.

The Transport and Environment Select Committee chair, Denis Marshall, announced at the committee hearing yesterday that the Government would not be seeking to pass the Bill into law before the election.

Forest and Bird Conservation Director Kevin Smith said woodchipping and log exporting had no place in New Zealand's native forest management in the new millennium.

"National could gain some badly needed credibility on forest conservation by abandoning the Forests Amendment Bill rather than just shelving it."

Mr Smith said that the Bill contained provisions to end the current Forests Act exemptions for Timberlands West Coast and South Island Maori land.

"On face value these seem worthy objectives, but in practice there would have been few benefits for forest conservation."

"In our submissions to the Select Committee we called for the Bill to be withdrawn and for the protection of the native forests managed by Timberlands."

Mr Smith said the destructive logging by Maori Trusts in Southland and South Otago should be controlled by the Minister for the Environment taking action under the Resource Management Act.

"The Clutha and Southland District Councils need assistance and direction from the Minister in working through the Treaty of Waitangi issues.

"The Maori Trusts cannot be allowed to destroy ancient forest ecosystems because of their claim that they are exempt from the requirements of the Resource Management Act."

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