INDEPENDENT NEWS

Government breaches own strategy

Published: Tue 15 Oct 2002 02:57 PM
Government breaches own strategy
Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is calling on the Government to block plans to sell off over 500 hectares of significant native forest for 'development'.
The land on the Mamaku Plateau near Rotorua was earmarked for DOC 12 years ago, but was instead allocated to the Forest Research Institute for research purposes. FRI is now selling the land, covered mainly in old and regenerating native forest and extensive wetlands.
But Ms Fitzsimons said the land is very significant because it includes rare native forest types and the largest experimental native plantation in a natural forest environment.
"I thought the days of raping and pillaging Government-owned native forest were well and truly over, but it seems not," said Ms Fitzsimons.
"FRI is advertising this land as ripe for plunder, saying 'Good keen man wanted to develop these three large blocks of Mamaku cut-over native bush and turn them into $$$'."
"Selling the land for 'development' is totally inconsistent with the Government's flagship biodiversity strategy, the goal of which is to halt the decline in New Zealand's indigenous biodiversity," she said.
"No-one is creating more of this type of forest to make up for that which will be lost."
Ms Fitzsimons said she took part in a large demonstration on the site three years ago, followed by a conversation with the CEO of FRI, and shortly afterwards the decision was announced that the forest would go to DOC.
"Last year I learned the decision had been reversed, and wrote to the Minister in charge of FRI, Pete Hodgson. He replied that this was an operational matter for the board, but that the land might be land-banked for treaty settlements.
"Now that the land has been cleared of treaty claims, I'm calling on him to exercise his rights as Minister and negotiate a solution in the public interest.
"Habitat of this quality is not abundant enough to leave it to a cash strapped CRI to cash in on."

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