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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Issue 8. April 1976]

NFAC Approaches Environment Minister

NFAC Approaches Environment Minister

Early in January, NFAC wrote to the Minister asking for an immediate stay on the proposed logging, and an environmental impact report on the effects of such logging on the Okarito Lagoon. NFAC also asked that both of the State forests proposed for milling, Waikukupa in the south and Okarito in the north be included in the adjacent Westland National Park.

The effect of this request would be to establish a unique mountain tops - to - the - sea reserve of public land, incorporating some of the best pure Rimu stands in the country.

The Minister refused this request, and said that logging will commence shortly in an initial block of 164 hectares close to the edge of the lagoon.

This small area is only the beginning though, as up to 6,000 hectares is available for logging, on the Minister's approval, and such approval is unlikely to be withheld.

Realising this, and the fact that logging was imminent, NFAC reluctantly decided to acknowledge that some selectively-milled Rimu was going to be lost. Hence a continuation of the request for admission of all of Okarito and Waikukupa State Forests was no longer meaningful.

A compromise was offered. In return for the careful selection of trees from the northern Okarito forest, NFAC wanted a definite admission of all of Waikukupa and southern Okarito into Westland National Park.

It also demanded that at least 3km of untouched forest be retained as a buffer between the lagoon and the edge of the milled area. This recognised the irreversibility of the Minister's stand, and offered further protection to the lagoon and Kotuku.

It is worth noting that the Okarito Lagoon is already a reserve, and that it does have a buffer zone of forest. However, the buffer is only 100m wide which provide no protection to the ecology of the feeding grounds.

If the Forest Service milled up to this line, therefore, it would destroy its own reserve; a not uncommon phenomenon in New Zealand forest management.

Professor Knox of Canterbury University told a public meeting in Christchurch last month that a minimum of 3km was his recommendation. NFAC accepts his expertise in favour of the Forest Service's suggestion, which has not been subject to the environmental assessment NFAC demanded.