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Eugenie Sage on the West Coast Wind-blown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill, Third reading

Well, I think that this *West Coast Wind-blown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill is certainly an exercise in pork barrel politics in trying to get votes for the National Party's candidate on the West Coast, but I wish it was just a cheap political stunt. It is much more than that because it has very serious consequences for our conservation legislation—even in clause 10 of the bill with a very different test that this is imposing on the *Director-General of Conservation for how he is going to evaluate these applications to log on conservation land. He is required to look at the effects of the logging and whether or not they are contrary to the purpose of the *Resource Management Act. As David Clendon noted, that purpose is one of sustainable management. It is quite a different purpose from the purpose of the *Conservation Act, which is about the preservation and protection of our natural resources.

So this bill is a fundamental weakening of the Conservation Act both in allowing logging and the criteria that the *director-general must use in evaluating logging. Cyclone Ita was certainly a tragedy for West Coast residents who had the roofs blown off their homes or whose businesses suffered damage because of the cyclonic wind, but it was never a tragedy for our forests. Native forests in New Zealand are dynamic. They are used to periodic disturbances. Whether it is from big heavy snow events or big wind events, that part of disturbance is part of the endless cycle of death, decay, and regeneration of these forests. Where you get areas of *wind-blow, you get more light, you get that encouraging the seedlings to regrow, and you get the recycling of nutrients.

As the distinguished botanist *Sir Alan Mark said in a letter to today's Dominion Post, and he is someone who has spent decades studying West Coast forests: *"Preserving and understanding natural processes, no matter how destructive, is a key reason why we have preserved these forests." The timber is not wasted by being wind-throw. By disturbing the forests to log the timber, we are attacking the very reason why these areas are protected. So it is deeply saddening to be part of a Parliament where the Government and its supporting parties are prepared to pass legislation that overturns the consensus that we do not have logging on conservation land.

As the regulatory impact statement makes very clear: *"The current legislation governing protected areas was specifically designed to prevent the harvest of indigenous timber from those lands." That was because the department was set up as an agency that was charged with managing these forests for conservation, for recreation, allowing tourism where that did not have impacts on conservation values but prohibiting the harvest of timber in virtually all circumstances except for customary purposes and some existing licences.

So it is that legislation, that commitment to not logging conservation land, which has protected our reserves, protected our conservation parks, and that is what this bill is overturning. The Green Party is opposing this bill because we stand for protecting our natural heritage, protecting our native species, which help give us our identity and which are so special because many of them are found nowhere else in the world, which means that we have an international responsibility to protect them and their habitats.

Logging is totally contrary to that. It is contrary to the protection and preservation purpose of the Conservation Act*, and it is part of a very short-sighted economic policy that is focused on extracting the maximum dollar value from the exploitation of nature. The Green Party wants a healthy environment. We think resource use has to be sustainable, and this bill is not promoting that because it is winding back the protection of West Coast forests, which people throughout New Zealand thought they had achieved in 1999 when the logging chainsaws were finally stopped and the 100,000 hectares of forest that *Timberlands was proposing for its West Coast beech scheme was stopped.

What the Government is doing is it is going back to the future. It is restarting an unsustainable industry by allowing the logging companies to access conservation land. It has been really disappointing that the Minister has declined to consider seriously any of the Supplementary Order Papers that Opposition parties put, to try to mitigate some of those impacts, to protect the forests from weeds, to prevent the damage that ground-based extraction would cause, and to restrict it to helicopter logging. It is really disappointing that all of these changes to the public conservation estate and to our protected lands are going through under urgency, with absolutely no opportunity for the public to have any involvement in this overturning of the fundamental protection provisions of the Conservation Act.