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Campaign History ...The Story so far (Page 2)

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NATIVE FOREST ACTION

MEDIA RELEASE

23 DECEMBER 1998

GOVERNMENT BLIND AND DEAF TO AVALANCHE OF PUBLIC OPPOSITION AGAINST BEECH LOGGING PROPOSALS

"WE WON’T TAKE THIS LYING DOWN" - NFA

Today's announcement by national Ministers David Carter and Tony Ryall to proceed with Timberlands ill-fated Beech Scheme is one of the Shipley Government’s most outrageous anti-environmental actions as well as a grotesquely obvious snub of massive public opposition.

Native forest Action is appalled that the government has approved Timberlands Beech logging scheme without the support of the public, and says it will continue to "Fight them on the Beeches".

"The Shipley government has forced a terrible Christmas present on New Zealand public with the intention of washing their dirty hands of this issue before 1999. The Government has no public mandate to go ahead with the Beech Scheme. No analysis has been made of the submissions, as we know they show overwhelming opposition. this announcement proves beyond any doubt that the government had no intention of listening to the public", said spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer.

"The issue has always been that Timberlands should never be allowed to log native forests again - not about finding ways to convince the public it is acceptable".

"Native Forest Action and opponents of this logging nation-wide will not take this announce lying down. whether it be by politics, economics or further public opposition we will stop this native forest logging."

"The west coast has $80 million dollars worth of pine plantations that can be exchanged for the native forests under threat of logging worth $14 million with no loss of jobs - this is what we have been promoting as a solution."

The government called for public submissions on Timberlands Beech Logging Plans on the 7 October 1998. On the deadline 6 weeks later, the government had received a record ten thousand plus submissions for that period of time. NFA estimate that a aproximately 9,000 - 10,000 submission voiced opposition against the beech logging proposals by Timberlands West Coast Ltd with only a handful of submissions in support.

"This is one of the gravest mistakes the Shipley Government has made. It will cost them politically at the next elections".

For further information contact : Native Forest Action Spokesperson

Dean Baigent-Mercer

Phone: 03-789-8734


NATIVE FOREST ACTION

MEDIA RELEASE

8 JANUARY 1999

QUIET CONSERVATIONIST ISSUED WITH TRESPASS WARNING FOR ATTENDING PUBLIC MEETING

Last night’s public meeting in Reefton turned sour when an NFA representative and education officer, Sean Weaver was escorted out by a police officer and given a trespass warning for simply attending and intending to quietly listen to Coast Action Network’s (CAN) perspective. Soon after two local people from the Buller Conservation Group were ordered to leave.

NFA says the issue of Timberlands logging native forests will only be solved by groups talking to each other and are disappointed that CAN, the local MP, and local mayors weren’t prepared to allow conservationists at the public meeting.

"It’s particularly ironic that Sean Weaver was targeted because he is the passionate driving force who has been strongly advocating to politicians to secure a good deal for West Coasters when the native logging stops. Because it was a public meeting it was appropriate for NFA to hear pro-logging views," said spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer.

"We can achieve much more for West Coast development and long-term employment if we work together."

Native Forest Action has been working with the authors of the Good Wood Guide which presents alternatives to using tropical, or New Zealand, native rainforest timbers. It promotes the use of plantation grown timbers such as pines on the West Coast that keep 400 local people employed.

"NFA has also put forward other alternatives to native forest logging to nurture the West Coast economy, including central government funding to for local sewerage schemes, local ownership of the state pine resource, Buller pine plantings, rate payments from conservation lands, and a levy on coal exports."

Contact: Dean Baigent-Mercer

03-789-8734


MEDIA RELEASE

13 JANUARY 1999

CONCRETE PROOF COASTERS WON’T BENEFIT FROM BEECH LOGGING SCHEME

Yesterday’s announcement that Tasmanian-based hardwood timber company Gunns has bought Carter Holt Harvey’s (CHH) specialist hardwood processing plant in Christchurch and is keen to process Timberland’s beech is concrete proof that very few coasters will be employed in processing beech.

"One of Timberlands’ most persuasive arguments to West Coasters has been that the beech logging scheme will produce 200 new jobs. Yesterday’s announcement proves nearly all the processing will be done in Christchurch, with profits leaving the region and New Zealand. This highlights Timberlands’ supposed commitment to local jobs as a barefaced lie," said Native Forest Action spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer.

"This is the writing on the wall - West Coasters will lose control of local resources. Overseas investors are expressing interest in buying Timberlands, and even the beech processing will go to a Tasmanian-owned company - along with the profits."

"The only way to keep the forests, and with them long-term employment for the West Coast, is for West Coast people to work with conservationists to lobby the Government to conserve the native forests in exchange for a decent regional development package."

"Groups such as Coast Action Network (CAN) that supposedly support regional development should now see how they have been manipulated by Timberlands West Coast Ltd."


Native Forest Network Press Release

14 January 1999

AUSTRALIAN ENVIRONMENTALISTS ENDORSE BOYCOTT OF GUNNS

International environment group Native Forest Network (NFN) have swung into action upon learning that Tasmanian-based Gunns have bought Carter Holt Harveys timber processing plant in Christchurch. NFN have said they will endorse New Zealand beech boycotts in Australia and New Zealand.

Gunns plans to send half of native beech cut by Timberlands West Coast Ltd offshore as whole logs, and process half in Christchurch. If these plans proceed very few, if any, West Coast sawmills would have access to West Coast beech.

"We take this acquisition of Carter Holt Harvey's mill in Christchurch with a very dim view. This company has no regard for the environment, or real jobs for New Zealanders. Any profits generated in New Zealand will go straight back to Tasmania," said Native Forest Network Southern Hemisphere Representative Tim Cadman.

"Across Tasmania - and now it appears the South Island too - precious Gondwana Beech forests are being sacrificed to export markets. We urge New Zealanders to boycott these ancient forest timbers."

"Native Forest Network will certainly be looking to support any consumer campaigns developed by New Zealand groups. This company is to be shunned by anybody who loves forests".

"Gunns have a reputation of being exceedingly hostile to the environment movement in Tasmania. They are also exporters of Tasmania's precious old growth forests to Japan in the form of unprocessed woodchips."

For further information contact: Tim Cadman NFN is a global autonomous

Native Forest Network Southern Hemisphere collective that seeks to protect

Ph: 03 6369 5474, Int'l: +61 3 6369 5474 native forests worldwide.

Email: tcadman@nfn.org.au


Native Forest Action

Media Release

14 January 1999

PRIVATISATION PLANS FOR TIMBERLANDS WEST COAST LTD IMMINENT

A source within Timberlands West Coast Ltd (TWC) has leaked information to Native Forest Action (NFA) revealing that the SOE is being positioned for privatisation.

The source has revealed that three Japanese companies have expressed interest in buying TWC - with one of the overseas companies being the most likely contender.

"Our native forests are not for sale. These forests don't belong to TWC, or the Government - but to every New Zealander. The West Coast forests under threat of privatisation are alive with threatened native birds, they are the jewels in the West Coast's crown." said Native Forest Action spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer.

"Recent public opinion has expressed that Timberlands should not be logging any native forests. This is as issue the public will not take laying down. NFA believes the vast majority of New Zealanders would find it abhorrent that a multi-national company could buy the cutting rights to some of our last lowland rainforests."

"The possible privatisation of beech and rimu cutting rights worth $14 million would be accompanied by the cutting rights for $80 million of West Coast pine. This would be a deliberate attempt to prevent initiatives to protect West Coast publicly-owned native forests in exchange for vesting state-owned pines to local control. The West Coast would miss out on much needed regional development initiatives".

"If the cutting rights to the native forests are privatised, it will cost the state more in the future when they will forced to buy them back".

Legally, if Timberlands were to be privatised, Ngai Tahu has first option of purchase. This was negotiated as part of their recent Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

For further information phone: Dean Baigent-Mercer

03-789-8734


National Media Release

Monday 25 January 1999

BLOCKADE HALTS LOGGERS

Members of Native Forest Action, the Buller Conservation Group and Forest and Bird began a logging road blockade at 7:30am today in the picturesque limestone country of Charleston, south of Westport. The human blockade of 25 people prevented Timberland’s loggers from getting to the ancient rimu trees they wanted to fell.

The conservationists are demanding an immediate moratorium on all native logging by government logging company Timberlands until comprehensive biodiversity surveys are conducted by the Department of Conservation. They are also calling for a development package for the West Coast in exchange for the protection of publicly owned native forests.

"The Government has given us no choice but to take this action for not being responcible guardians of our biodiversity" said NFA spokesperson Dr Sean Weaver.

"Timberlands must be forced by the Government to stop native logging immediately. Before any further consideration of forest uses Native Forest Action, the Buller Conservation Group, and Forest & Bird are demanding biodiversity surveys conducted independantly from Timberlands. This would provide concrete framework for protecting areas of importance - at present this area is being logged without any such knowledge".

"It is supreme hypocrisy for Jenny Shipley to pontificate on the need to protect our biodiversity while at the same time promoting the logging of these precious native forests."

"The Government has deliberately ignored public opinion on native logging and its PR is obviously a fašade behind which they will continue to degrade our nations natural heritage for a fast buck".

-"Beneath the present logging is a labyrinth of spectacular caves, complete with stalactites, moa bones and glow worms, in a limestone landscape that makes this one of the most enchanting forests of the country. And they are still logging it."

For further information please contact Sean Weaver (03) 789 8734

Live coverage is possible from the blockade by arrangement. Please ring the above number to do so.


Press Release For West Coast Media

Monday 25 January 1999

BLOCKADE HALTS LOGGERS

The Buller Conservation Group, Native Forest Action and Forest & Bird began a logging road blockade today in the picturesque limestone country of Charleston, south of Westport. The human blockade of about 25 people prevented Timberland’s loggers from getting to the ancient rimu trees they wanted to fell. Banners were displayed with the slogans: "Timberlands Rips Off Buller" and "Stop Native Logging Now."

The conservationists are demanding an immediate moratorium on all native logging by SOE Timberlands until independent biodiversity surveys are conducted by the Department of Conservation. They are also calling for a development package for the West Coast in exchange for the protection of state owned native forests.

Native Forest Action education officer, Dr Sean Weaver said that local people can measure Timberlands lack of commitment for local employment by carting Buller rimu to Hokitika every day for milling and preventing local mills from gaining access to the local timber resource.

"Timberlands is not the best option for those West Coasters who are concerned about local development, because the SOE simply picked the shortest route to profits for themselves and their mates," Dr Weaver said.

"If Timberlands was really interested in local employment it would have arranged milling contracts with mills in the sub regions that grew the timber.

"I believe that it would be better for West Coasters to work with the nation’s conservationists (including the Buller Conservation Group) to secure a decent development package in exchange for the protection of those native forests that clearly deserve it.

"The writing is on the wall: the beech scheme will not proceed. The next government will can it. If we think ahead and work together we can ensure that the Coast economy is not left stranded when that happens. In the process we can help the Coast economy emerge from its outdated role as a resource colony where the benefits of development continually disappear to other regions."

"There are heaps of environmentalists throughout the country who have responded positively to our appeal to give the Coast a decent development deal in exchange for the protection of native forests. They want these forests protected and they will support employment initiatives that can make it possible. We have a win-win opportunity staring us in the face," Dr Weaver said.

For further information please contact Sean Weaver (03) 789 8734

 


Media Release

Monday 25 January 1999

8 ARRESTS AT LOGGING BLOCKADE

A peaceful blockade today resulted in eight arrests on a logging road in the picturesque limestone country of Charleston, south of Westport. The five hour blockade of about 30 people prevented Timberlands’ loggers from getting to the ancient rimu and beech trees they wanted to fell. Those arrested are members of Native Forest Action, the Buller Conservation Group, and Forest and Bird.

Native Forest Action spokesperson Dr Sean Weaver said that the blockade demands included "an immediate moratorium on all native logging by government logging company Timberlands until comprehensive biodiversity surveys are conducted by the Department of Conservation. We also propose a development package for the West Coast in exchange for the protection of publicly owned native forests."

"Protestors were arrested just before lunch and taken to the Westport police station. The arrests show how serious the situation has become with the Government’s blatant refusal to listen to public opinion on this issue. We have been forced to try and stop the logging ourselves," Dr Weaver said.

"It is supreme hypocrisy for Jenny Shipley to pontificate on the need to protect our biodiversity while at the same time promoting the logging of these precious native forests."

"The Government has deliberately ignored public opinion on native logging and its PR is obviously a fašade behind which they will continue to degrade our nations natural heritage for a fast buck."

"Beneath the present logging is a labyrinth of spectacular caves, complete with stalactites, moa bones and glow worms, in a limestone landscape that makes this one of the most enchanting forests of the country. And they are still logging it."

There is a photo available for us to email publications that want it. For this or further information please contact Steve Abel or Dean Baigent-Mercer on (03) 789 8734


02/02/99 West Coast Regional Press Release

ACTIVISTS DISABLE LOGGING HELICOPTER

Two Native Forest Action campaigners locked themselves to a logging helicopter in Westport early this morning and successfully managed to prevent the aircraft from leaving the ground. The helicopter is used by Timberlands to air lift logs from their logging operations in West Coast forests. Bridget Gibb, NFA veteran of the 1997 Charleston tree sit, is locked to the helicopter wheel with her arms through padded steel tubing, and campaigner Steve Abel is attached to the rotor apparatus with a padded bicycle D lock around his neck.

NFA spokesperson Dr Sean Weaver stressed that "it is a non-violent direct action protest and no attempt has been made to cause any damage to the aircraft. The action is simply designed to prevent it from taking off. The locks are padded to protect the paintwork on the chopper."

"The Government ignored 10,000 submissions opposing the logging operation so we are now forced to try to stop it ourselves," Dr Weaver said.

"Timberlands sponges off a taxpayer subsidy, pays a North Island helicopter company to employ Russian pilots to remove rimu from Buller forests, which is milled in Hokitika, turned into furniture in Christchurch and sold at a premium in Auckland."

According to Dr Weaver the economic problems on the Coast have not been caused by conservation but conservationists often get the blame.

"The economic woes of the Coast are the result of state and private sector restructuring over the last 12 years. For example, between 1987 and 1991 1,454 state sector jobs had been axed. With the cutting of private sector regional development grants many employers left the region leading to further job losses with the closure of mills, factories, banks and post offices," Dr Weaver said.

Dr Weaver said that conservationists are being used as scapegoats for West Coast economic woes.

"The anti-greenie hype is a political smoke screen designed to hide the exploitation of local people and local resources."

"The time is right to stop the logging of public native forests and to secure a decent compensation package for the West Coast people. The nation’s environment movement is behind us and they will support a West Coast development deal too."

"A good way to see the Timberlands political strategy is to look at their PR and advertising. The vast majority of Timberlands advertising spending is on the Coast. But their markets are not on the Coast. This advertising and PR budget is designed primarily to bend the minds of locals into politically supporting them. The plethora of simplistic and patronizing radio adverts is a case in point."

For further information please contact Sean Weaver or Dean Baigent-Mercer (03) 789 8734

 


2 /2/99 National Media Press Release

ACTIVISTS DISABLE LOGGING HELICOPTER

Two Native Forest Action campaigners locked themselves to a logging helicopter in Westport early this morning and successfully managed to prevent the aircraft from leaving the ground. The helicopter is used by Timberlands to air lift logs from their logging operations in West Coast forests. Bridget Gibb, NFA veteran of the 1997 Charleston tree sit, is locked to the helicopter wheel with her arms through padded steel tubing, and campaigner Steve Abel is attached to the rotor apparatus with a padded bicycle D lock around his neck.

NFA spokesperson Dr Sean Weaver stressed that "it is a non-violent direct action protest and no attempt has been made to cause any damage to the aircraft. The locks are padded to protect the paintwork on the chopper."

"The Government ignored 10,000 submissions opposing the logging operation so we are now forced to try to stop it ourselves," Dr Weaver said.

"This helicopter has enabled Timberlands to gain access to rich pockets of remote forest that have been protected by their isolation until now. The helicopter is not an innocent device for plucking trees like flowers from the garden. It enables the systematic removal of centuries old rimu and beech trees from our rainforests. The rotor’s rhythmic drone is the death call for innocent plants and animals that cling to survival in our delicate lowland forests."

"The logging of what little is left of our public native forests is the crime of the century. We want our nation to enter the next millennium with a clean conscience."

"Fifteen years ago we went anti-nuclear and it has been the pride of the nation ever since. We need to take an equal pride in our native forests and protect what is left of them on public land for future generations."

"No one is forced to degrade the environment for a living. There are always alternatives if we have the imagination and the political will."

For further information please contact Sean Weaver or Dean Baigent- Mercer (03) 789 8734.

 


02/02/99 Press Release - SEVEN CONTROVERSIAL ARRESTS OVER LOGGING HELICOPTER ESCALATES DEBATE

Seven campaigners determined to halt Timberlands West Coast

Ltd from logging rimu and beech forests were today arrested at the Westport Airport.

Two protesters were locked to the helicopter to prevent the helicopter from flying: Steve Abel was attached near the rotor blade by a kryptonite bicycle d-lock, while Bridget Gibb lay flat on her back with her hands chained together and her arms encased in 4-inch galvanised piping welded into a 90 degree angle, near the helicopter's wheel. [all lock-on devices were padded so no damage was done to the helicopter]

Support people were ordered by Police to leave the tarmac, but refused through fear for the helicopter-attached protesters' safety. These people were the first five to be arrested, while other protesters peacefully moved away.

The d-lock around Steve Abel's neck was cut with boltcutters at 9:25am.

At 10am a fire engine arrived and spent nearly an hour cutting Bridget Gibb free.

"The success of this protest has been in grounding the helicopter for a day, obstructing Timberlands logging operations in beautiful forests of centuries-old rimu and beech trees", said NFA spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer.

"This helicopter has enabled Timberlands to gain access to rich pockets of remote forest that have been protected by their isolation until now. The helicopter is not an innocent device for plucking trees like flowers from the garden. It enables the systematic removal of centuries old rimu and beech trees from our rainforests."

"The logging of what little is left of our public native forests is the environmental crime of the century. We want our nation to enter the next millennium with a clean conscience."

"We're doing all we can to end Timberlands native logging operation. This is what the government should already have done if it listened to the majority views of New Zealanders. Ten thousand public submissions at the end of last year made it loud and clear that native forest logging on public land is not tolerable".

"Timberlands sponges off a taxpayer subsidy, pays a North Island helicopter company to employ Russian pilots to remove rimu from Buller forests, which is milled in Hokitika, turned into furniture in Christchurch and sold at a premium in Auckland."

For further information phone: Dean Baigent-Mercer

03-789-8734

 


Media Release 3 February 1999

FIGHTING FUND SET UP TO SUPPORT ARRESTED PROTESTERS

A fighting fund has been set up to allow members of the public to make donations towards fines Native Forest Action campaigners will incur after recent arrests blockading a logging road and preventing a logging helicopter from working.

"The public response has been extremely supportive of the our action to ground Timberlands’ logging helicopter. Offers of help have been pouring in, including a suggestion of having a 'fighting fund' to pay for the fines incurred by those people who risked arrest and violence to stand up for our publicly-owned forests."

"Donations can be made to Native Forest Action, PO Box 836, Nelson"

"This action was taken as a serious measure after many other avenues have been exhausted to stop Timberlands native forest logging over the past 2 years," said Native Forest Action spokesperson Steve Abel, "Our initial treetop forest occupation lasted for 5 months and drew national attention to this logging. Last October the government called for 'public comment' on Timberlands plans to expand their logging operations into beech forests while continuing to log rimu. The overwhelming public response was clearly against Timberlands logging any more native trees".

"The Government have deliberately ignored public feeling so Native Forest Action have been looked upon to stop this environmental destruction. After long serious consideration we decided to take yesterdays action, where two campaigners attached themselves to the heavy-lift helicopter that removes centuries-old beech, rimu and kahikatea."

The helicopter which is based in the central North Island and employs Russian pilots and engineers is contracted by Timberlands. Despite their claims that this form of rainforest logging is "environmentally sensitive", what it really means is that pockets of rainforest that were previously inaccessible because of their remote location can be logged. Trees are still felled to the forest floor and the canopy is far from "intact", as quoted by Jenny Shipley in her previous role as Minister of State Owned Enterprises.

For more information contact: Steve Abel 03-789-8734

 


 

Native Forest Action media release 10th February 1999

Thai monks lend support to NZ rainforest activists.

Two buddhist monks from the Plai-Na monastery in Thailand travelled to the West Coast in to lend support to Native Forest Action workers in their campaign against native logging on public land.

Arjan Kosin and Pairoj Prommar who have been campaigning against deforestation in their home country paid a visit to the southern part of Charleston forest to see the masses of Rimu trees felled by the Government logging company Timberlands since Christmas (see picture).

The monks made headlines world wide when their order of monks ordained trees in forests threatened with logging, thereby making it very difficult for Thai loggers to fell the trees because of their spiritual beliefs.

Since 1996 the monks have also been leading 500km peace or dharma walks around the Songkla lake in southern Thailand. Local people join the walks and discuss social and environmental issues and are encouraged to care for and regenerate the lake environment.

"There seem to be parallels between the New Zealand forest situation and our own" says Arjan Kosin. "In Thailand we have only 20% of our forests left and only a very small percentage of what remains is lowland forest". In New Zealand only 23% of the original forest cover remains, only a 10th of which is lowland forest.

Whereas one has to look back hundreds of years to find 80% of New Zealand still covered in a primeval mantle of temperate rainforest, Thailand was still 80% covered in rich tropical rainforest only 20 years ago.

So called "development" funding from the West has led to the massive deforestation of Thailand since the Vietnam war, according to Pairoj Prommar.

Normally it is "developed" nations that tell "developing" countries to stop destroying rainforest. NFA campaigners thought it was an interesting twist that in this instance ambassadors from a so called "developing" nation are encouraging "first world" New Zealand to stop logging rainforest.

Though most of Thailand’s remaining forests are protected by law, Governmental corruption means that logging still occurs in many forests. The monks say the illegal logging in Thailand looks very similar to the Timberlands operation where the biggest canopy trees are taken. In Thailand it is normally Teak that is logged in New Zealand it is ancient Rimu and now Beech.

Native Forest Action also showed the monks the beautiful old growth forest flanking the Ohikanui river (or big Oweka) in the proposed wilderness area beside the Buller gorge.

The monks were moved by the beauty and safety of New Zealand native forest. When the monks walk in Thai forest they have to beware of wild elephants, cobras, poisonous spiders, stinging ants and even the occasional tiger.

The monks signed the newly released Buller Conservation Group and Native Forest Action petition calling for an immediate end to native logging and an alternative funding package for the West Coast. The conservationists who met the monks found their wisdom and support to be very inspiring and gifted them flax kete and organic rice as a show of thanks.

For more information contact Steve Abel on (03) 789 8734

ENDS


Press Release: 23/02/99

Still Hope For Pine Plantings

Native Forest Action urges the Buller people not to give up on state funded pine plantings in the sub-region. The conservation group is responding to an announcement yesterday by Jenny Shipley that the plantings promised to Mayor Pat O’Dea are not going to happen. These plantings are part of a regional development proposal that NFA have been pushing in exchange for the protection of public native forests.

NFA education Officer Dr Sean Weaver said that the conservation movement knows very well that many great things happen only as the result of long and hard public campaigns. He said that yesterday’s announcement was only a minor drawback and with a focused campaign the plantings will still go ahead.

"It is election year and anything can happen. If we work together we will get the plantings. By supporting a regional development package in exchange for the protection of public native forests, the Buller people will gain the support of the nation’s environmentalists for projects like this.

Dr Weaver said that the announcement demonstrates that the West Coast Accord is incapable of guaranteeing anything for the West Coast people.

"The Accord has not and will not do anything of substance for the Buller. It did not stem the tide of job losses during the era of state and private sector restructuring, it did not stop Timberlands carting Buller rimu to Hokitika for milling, it did not keep banks, post offices and hospital wards open, and it wont put pines in the ground for you now. It would be better if we worked together to secure realistic development gains for the Buller. If we do this now we will get the support of thousands of New Zealanders from other regions who want to see the public native forests protected."


Native Forest Action media release, 23 February 1999

Strong Local Support for Conserving Public Native Forests

In just 32 hours of street contact the Buller Conservation Group and Native Forest Action have collected almost 600 signatures in Westport on their joint petition. The petition calls for a regional development package in exchange for an end to the logging of publicly owned native forests. More than 350 of the signatures were from West Coast residents.

NFA spokesperson Peter Russell said that despite Timberlands advertising and public relations efforts, many local people are strongly opposed to the logging of publicly owned native forests.

"We don't want job losses to occur as a result of getting the forests protected."

"There are better ways to enhance development on the Coast than degrading the natural treasures that draw visitors to the region," Mr Russell said.

Buller Conservation Group spokesperson Pete Lusk said that about half of the people they approached chose to sign the petition. "The rest were evenly divided between those who didn’t want to sign it and those who were undecided. We’re pleased with the number of people who discussed the issues with us on the street, especially those who go away, think about it and return to sign the petition."

"We are keen for open discussion on this issue because it is an important one for the Buller. We who live here want the Buller to benefit far into the future from present day decisions. If we all work together with other conservation groups around the country we will achieve it," Mr Lusk said.

The conservationists are also collecting signatures on petitions to retain and improve services at Buller and Greymouth Hospitals. "The government is as much of a threat to our hospital services as they are to native forests," Mr Russell said.

"NFA is also concerned about wider social and environmental issues. This is why we have put a great deal of energy into constructing and promoting a realistic regional development package."

The development package in the petition requests the transferral of ownership of state exotic plantations on the Coast to local government, state funding for new exotic plantations, a coal levy, state funding for local sewage schemes and funding for regional pest control. Other options include tourism development projects that take advantage of the natural and historical assets of the Buller.

"Conservation can be very positive for the region’s development prospects, particularly if we think ahead. Tourism has already proven its worth in places like Punakaiki, Hokitika, and South Westland. We need to build on this for Westport and Reefton," Mr Russell said.

For further information please contact Peter Russell (03) 789 8734 or Sean Weaver (03) 332 8671

 


Press Release for Monday 15 March 1999

"POSH" LAUNCH OF ECO-BOOK OUTSIDE RAINFOREST TIMBER SHOP

This morning, activists don tuxedos and ball-gowns to launch a new book promoting alternatives to rainforest timbers. The 1999 Good Wood Guide will be launched on the footpath outside one of Wellington's biggest rainforest furnitures retailers.

Wellington Rainforest Action Group (WRAG), Native Forest Action (NFA) and guests will ceremonially launch the booklet. The guide explains which kinds of timber are 'good', where they can be bought, and which architects and builders have made a commitment to not using wood from ancient ecosystems.

The campaigners will then visit about eight other central Wellington rainforest furniture sellers, to present them with free copies of the guide, and ask if they would like to display a sign in their shop saying they have alternatives to rainforest timbers available.

"Most people want to help save rainforests, not destroy them. The Good Wood Guide provides consumers with practical, positive options," says Katy Brown of WRAG."The guide can be found on the web at http://www.converge.org.nz/gwg"

"A lot of buyers have been tricked by fake recycled rimu, and false claims of 'sustainable management'. This guide should help set the record straight," says Dean Baigent-Mercer, veteran NFA campaigner for the West Coast forests.

If you'd like more information, please contact Katy Brown at 04-385-6728.

If you are keen to purchase the hard copy Good Wood Guide, it costs $6 + $1 for p&p. Cheques and orders can be sent to: Good Wood Guide, Wellington Rainforest Action Group, PO Box 119-64, Wellington.

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NON-VIOLENT PROTEST VINDICATED

On Monday, nine protestors from Native Forest Action, Buller Conservation Group and Forest and Bird Protection Society appeared in Westport District Court charged with intimidation and trespass.  Judge Ryan found those facing intimidation charges not guilty and spoke of a noble tradition of protest in New Zealand before discharging three protestors without conviction for trespass at Westport Airport.

NFA spokesperson Peter Russell, who faced both the intimidation and trespass charges, said "the judgements vindicated our belief that we were taking part in legitimate peaceful protests which are a very important part of a democratic society.  Protests like these helped give women the vote, stop nuclear ships coming to New Zealand and put an end to aparthied."

Eight protestors faced charges regarding their participation in a blockade of the Four Mile logging road in January.  Judge Ryan found that the protestors' peaceful blockade could not be described as "forcibly" preventing loggers from getting to their work.  "We have a strict policy of non-violence," said Mr Peter Russell.

Evidence of the good-humoured nature of the protest included descriptions by both Timberlands contractors and police of respectful and amicable interactions between all parties at the blockade.  In evidence given by a Timberlands contractor it was said that one of the loggers accepted an apple offered by the protestors.  Photographic evidence showed one police officer trying on a kiwi mask being used by the protestors.

During the blockade jokes were made by police about the white heron chick costumes worn by some of the protestors.  Sergeant John Canning agreed it was possible that during the blockade he had said the police did not have a frying pan large enough for the "chicken".

Three protestors faced charges for trespassing on the Westport Airport carpark in support of fellow campaigners who had locked themselves onto Timberlands' logging helicopter in February.  They gave evidence that they had refused to leave because they were concerned about the safety of the two people attached to the helicopter.  They also wanted to ensure no damage was done to the helicopter which could later be blamed on the protestors.

"Our right to protest peacefully against Timberlands' destructive logging practices has been vindicated and we will continue our campaign until the logging is stopped," Mr Russell said.

At a depositions hearing yesterday it was determined that the trial of the two protestors who attached themselves to the helicopter is not likely to be held for several months.

For more information contact:
Peter Russell 03/789-8734


Native Forest Action
Media Release
Tuesday 10 August 1999

ANTI-NATIONAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN LAUNCH BY ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP

This morning Native Forest Action campaigners erected a startling billboard, which depicts the sun rising over a tree stump with the words: "New Zealand. First country in the world still logging rainforests in the new millenium."

This action launched the group's election campaign which will involve posters, protests and other publicity to remind voters of National's distressing environmental record.

"The target of this campaign will be Jenny Shipley because the Prime Minister is the most rigid supporter of Timberlands' native forest logging in government," said Native Forest Action spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer, "With Jenny Shipley stridently in favour of Timberlands' logging we've realised that the only way to stop the trees falling is a change of government."

"Government hypocrisy has reached a crescendo in recent weeks with the Conservation Minister announcing conservation measures on Stewart Island at the same time as allowing state company Timberlands to expand its logging on the West Coast."

"The government deliberately rushed the Forests Amendment Bill through parliament under urgency three weeks ago. If passed, the Bill will see us turning back the clock to the 1970s and '80s by allowing woodchipping of our native forests for paper."

"Even harder to believe, the proposed law would allow the export of whole native logs, with no New Zealand processing."
Submissions on the Forests Amendment Bill close today at 5pm.

Native Forest Action campaigners dressed in overalls hung their eyecatching banner in front of the daily commuter traffic down the Wellington end of the old Hutt Road at 8am.

For more information contact: Dean Baigent-Mercer on 04-383-5168


Native Forest Action
Media Release
Wednesday 11 August 1999

TIMBERLANDS' BEECH LOGGING SCHEME NOT SUSTAINABLE - PROOF

Timberlands' so-called "sustainable" beech logging management plans have crumbled under independent scientific scrutiny. A Landcare report released today shows major flaws in Timberlands' claims to "sustainable logging".

The crown research institute today published a scientific model which describes the effect that taking logs from beech forests will have on the overall composition of the forests over time.

"The Landcare report shows that under Timberlands' beech logging model, the forests will be severely depleted of older trees in only a few years," said NFA spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer. "The report discredits Timberlands' claims to sustainability."

Landcare's beech logging model, designed by Dr Murray Efford from Christchurch, is available free on its website and Landcare's chief executive Andy Pearce has said the CRI published it to enable public debate on the issue. Native Forest Action welcomes this move and urges the government to pay attention.

"There has been immense public interest in the issue, but the government has not heeded concerns that Timberlands' model is unsustainable," said Dean Baigent-Mercer.

"The public has only had Timberlands' word on the soundness of its plans, which is obviously biased. It is good to see Landcare publishing its scientific information in a publicly accessible forum.


"Last December the government approved Timberlands' beech management plans in principle, without any scrutiny into the scientific accuracy of its plans, let alone any acknowledgement of the 10,000 members of the public who put in submissions opposing the scheme.

"And now the government is attempting to railroad through amendments to the Forests Amendment Act to lock in the export of beech woodchips, and the trashing of other Timberlands forests, before they get voted out in the election.

"Native Forest Action wants the government to pay attention to Landcare's report and to put a stop to Timberlands' unsustainable beech logging scheme," said Mr Baigent-Mercer.

For more information, contact Dean Baigent-Mercer: 04-383-5168.

 


Native Forest Action
Media Release
Thursday 12  August 1999

RATEPAYERS' MONEY 'THROWN DOWN THE CAN'

A $4,000 donation to Coast Action Network (CAN) from the Grey District Council has been likened to "throwing money down the can" by Native Forest Action (NFA).

On Monday 9 July, the Grey District Council voted to pay CAN $4,000 from its discretionary grants fund. This follows a donation last month for the same amount from the Westland District Council.

"For a District Council to throw hard-earned ratepayers' money to a group that apologises and fronts a company's wishes is completely inappropriate," said Dean Baigent-Mercer of Native Forest Action. "It means legitimate local projects will miss out on essential funding." 

"I'm sure most West Coasters see through CAN's shallow references to other industries, such as farming and coal mining, and realise they exist purely for Timberlands' sake.  It's reached the point where most people can't tell CAN and Timberlands apart. CAN is Timberlands' trained puppy who defends its master whenever Timberlands says 'jump'".

"The real insult for West Coasters is that while CAN is trying to convince everyone that Timberlands' logging plans are ecologically sustainable and essential for the local economy, Timberlands is plotting how it can best be privatised."

Peter Russell, NFA's Conservation Officer in Westport said, "It's not hard to see who CAN really represents. CAN routinely claims NFA wants to demolish the Coast's 'forestry industry', even though we are promoting plantation
timber production as an acceptable alternative."

"Most of CAN's propaganda and so-called 'public' meetings are focused on preserving Timberlands' native logging operations. Their spokespeople often claim that all people attending their meetings support Timberlands, even though many West Coasters strongly oppose them and only attend their meetings out of concern for the West Coast's economic and environmental future," said Mr Russell.

"Rural and urban folk up and down the Coast have been contacting conservation groups for help because they are angry and frustrated with Timberlands' destructive and wasteful logging activities and also being misrepresented by TWC and CAN."

The Buller District Council recently rejected a similar application from CAN for funding.

For more information contact:  Dean Baigent-Mercer - 04-383-5168 or  Peter Russell  03-789-8734


Secrets and Lies Book published by Nicky Hager

Staff Reporter: Peter Fowler www.newsroom.co.nz
17/08/99 11:51:00

A book released today contains hundred of pages of allegedly leaked documents which some observers say could be damaging for the Government and Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley.

The documents are contained in a book "Secrets and Lies," written by researcher Nicky Hager and Australian journalist, Bob Burton.

The book details a campaign by the company, Timberlands, to shift policy in favour of native beech logging on the West Coast of the South Island. Timberlands Limited is a state-owned enterprise, and was created to manage all state-owned production forests.

In a response to a written Parliamentary question last month, Mrs Shipley denied any staff in her office were involved in relations between Timberlands and the Government.

But the documents in "Secrets and Lies" show that Mrs Shipley's executive assistant kept Timberlands briefed on minister's meetings and government activity over the issue.


New Book's Revelations Shocking

Press Release: Native Forest Action
17/08/99 15:42:00

Native Forest Action is shocked by the revelations in Secrets and Lies by Nicky Hager and Bob Burton, and says that Timberlands has lost all right to have control of public native forests.

"Timberlands cannot be trusted with our native forests. Now that the truth behind Timberlands' anti-environmental campaign has been revealed, there is no option but for the government to stop the logging immediately," said Native Forest Action spokesperson, Dean Baigent-Mercer.

"We knew there was some sort of anti-environmental public relations campaign against us, but we had no idea just how far-reaching and orchestrated the campaign has been."

"The book shows that all the attacks and slurs against us during the last three years have been part of a calculated PR campaign to keep Timberlands' native forest logging going at any cost," said Mr Baigent-Mercer.

"We find it hard to see how the government could allow the senior staff of Timberlands to retain their jobs after these revelations."

"We want Mrs Shipley to take full responsibility for this outrageous manipulation of the public and the inappropriate spending of public funds. The issue rests squarely with her."
ENDS


Rod Urges Ryal to Set Up Timberlands Enquiry

Press Release: Green Party
17/08/99 11:26:00

The Green Party is calling on State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall to initiate an investigation into Timberlands following accusations made today by author Nicky Hager in his new book Secrets and Lies.

Hager's book reveals how the SOE Timberlands and the public relations company Shandwick have orchestrated a campaign to gain support for native forest logging on the West Coast.

"If Hager's claims are true then a government-owned organisation has engaged in totally inappropriate behaviour," Mr Donald said.

"The lobbying, the manipulation, and activities which verge on the subversive are what you would expect of a trans-national corporation, not a state-owned enterprise. It is vital that Mr Ryall sets up an independent inquiry to carry out a thorough investigation of these extremely serious allegations.

"The timing is crucial as Parliament is currently considering legislation which would allow Timberlands to rip out thousands more trees from pristine native forest and permit the export of native woodchips.

"The Shandwick revelations also bring into question the integrity of Timberland's claims about the sustainability of their proposed beech scheme," he said.

ENDS


Shipley Has No Response to Book Claims

17/08/99 12:14:00

The Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley, said today she had no response to claims her executive secretary kept Timberlands briefed on attempts to change the government's policy on logging native beech.

A book released today called "Secrets and Lies" contains hundreds of pages of leaked documents, some of which show the Prime Ministers assistant kept Timberlands briefed on minister's meetings and government activity over the issue.

Last month Mrs Shipley denied in reply to a written Parliamentary question that her staff were involved.

Meanwhile the state-owned forestry company Timberlands denies it has been using public money to try to change the Government's policy on logging native beech.

The company said it had supplied information to government officials, but had not lobbied to change the direction of the policies.


Timberlands Evidence to be Probed

Press Release: Alliance
17/08/99 15:38:00


The Prime Minister faces a grilling in parliament next Tuesday over her involvement in Timberlands' public relations activities.

A new book published today by Nicky Hagar and Bob Burton details substantial evidence of significant contact and cooperation between Timberlands and Mrs Shipley's office, despite the prime ministers assurances to parliament that no such contact occurred.

The Prime Minister has today been refusing to make any comment on the issue, but Alliance environment spokesperson Phillida Bunkle says the Alliance would challenge the prime minister on the issues in the House when it resumes sitting next week.

'The book Secrets and Lies exposes very damning evidence that answers given to parliament by the prime minister did not give a complete picture. This is the prime minister who wasn't sure about her dinner with Kevin Roberts and who made up her statements on television about John Hawkesby's severance pay. Now there is another serious blow to her credibility.'

Phillida Bunkle said she would lay a formal complaint with the Auditor-General and the State Services Commission over Timberlands million-dollar PR campaigns.

'Timberlands is essentially a government department. It has no role in trying to shape public opinion in support of cutting down ancient trees. Its job is to carry out government policy, not to make it.

'Extravagant spending on public relations to manipulate public opinion is unacceptable and appears to be specifically forbidden by the Auditor's rules on government advertising.'

Suggestions that a fake bomb was planted on a Timberlands helicopter in a dirty tricks stunt to smear environmentalists with an 'eco-terrorism' label should also be investigated, Phillida Bunkle said.

She says the police should launch an investigation into whether a false complaint was laid over the bomb.

'There needs to be a very thorough police inquiry and an independent review by outside officers of the investigation to date. Making a false complaint to police is a very serious offence,' Phillida Bunkle said.


Forest & Bird Take Prime Minister to Task

Press Release: Forest and Bird
18/08/99 15:20:00

Conservationists say Prime Minister Jenny Shipley's statements implying that her Government has ended logging of Buller forests are misleading when Timberlands West Coast Ltd has in the last month begun logging the magnificent and largely untouched Orikaka Forest.

"It is a nonsense to suggest that Government has ended the logging of Buller forests when in July 1999 Timberlands began logging the 6,400 ha Orikaka Forest on the north bank of the Buller, which has never previously been logged by the company.  Eighty five percent of Orikaka Forest is pristine old growth forest which supports more than half a dozen native species threatened with extinction, including great spotted kiwi," said Forest and Bird field officer Eugenie Sage.

"The cut-off date set by Government for the heavy logging in the Buller is December 2000.  By then Timberlands will have ripped the heart out of Orikaka Forest by logging between 6,000 rimu trees (Timberlands' estimates) and 12,000 trees (Forest and Bird's estimates)."

The Forests Amendment Bill now being considered by the Transport and Environment select committee endorses such logging.

Ms Sage said Timberlands' claims that it is "supplying information", not lobbying, are scarcely credible given its extravagant spending on public relations.

In the year ended 31 March 1998 Timberlands spent $697,200 on public relations consultants, publications and sponsorship.  Staff salaries and the company's in-house PR costs are on top of this.  (Figures from report to the Primary Production select committee on 25 September 1998.)

"What private company, particularly a small forestry company of Timberlands' size with around 45 staff, spends 10% of its revenue on public relations?"

"The high proportion of revenue devoted to public relations expenditure is further evidence that Timberlands long ago crossed the line between providing information to Government and engaging in active lobbying.  In so doing it has attempted to manipulate public, media and political opinion in order to get support for its beech logging scheme and to justify the continued destruction of Buller's rimu forests," Ms Sage said.

Timberlands' revenue from rimu and beech log sales in the year ended 31 March 1998 totalled $10,355,000.  (This comprises $10,046,000 from rimu sales and $309,000 from beech sales).

Ends


Opposition says that SOEs must follow policy, not make it.

Staff Reporter: Peter Fowler
18/08/99 08:20:00

The Labour Leader Helen Clark says the controversy over Timberlands demonstrates a breakdown in appropriate political relationships, even if no laws have necessarily been broken.

Author Nicky Hager has alleged in a book that the staff of the Prime Minister have assisted the state owned enterprise, Timberlands, in political lobbying during her period as the Minister of  SOEs.

Miss Clark said that Ministers should have an arms length relationship with the boards of any SOE, whereas she says this situation developed into direct political lobbying.

She said the lobbying has involved attacks against the New Zealand Labour Party, which is in the process of considering a policy at odds with Timberlands' desire to prolong widespread native forest logging.

"It is hard to think of any precedent for a state-owned enterprise, or any Crown agency, or government department running a public relations campaign against the policies of an opposition party," she said.

Alliance MP Phillida Bunkle said she would lay a formal complaint with the Auditor-General and the State Services Commission over Timberlands million-dollar PR campaigns.

"Timberlands is essentially a government department. It has no role in trying to shape public opinion in support of cutting down ancient trees. Its job is to carry out government policy, not to make it," she said.

However Prime Minister Jenny Shipley has dismissed any suggestion of a conspiracy to change  policy.


Shandwick must apologise to New Zealand

Press Release: Native Forest Action
18/08/99 10:47:00

Shandwick, Timberlands' Wellington public relations company, should apologise to New Zealand for all the secretive manipulation it has done for Timberlands, said Native Forest Action spokesperson, Dean Baigent-Mercer.

Native Forest Action and others are protesting outside Shandwick's Wellington office at lunchtime today (12.15pm to 1pm) to call upon Shandwick to apologise, and to highlight to New Zealanders that these shameful practices are not acceptable.

The book, "Secrets and Lies" by Nicky Hager and Bob Burton, holds proof of this public relations company's unethical practices. "Since 1991 Shandwick has advised Timberlands to adopt many unethical and subversive public relations tactics and strategies. There seemed to be no consideration of ethical boundaries to what they were prepared to do," said Mr
Baigent-Mercer.

- Shandwick has acted as a political lobbyist for Timberlands in Parliament, which is unacceptable behaviour for a state-owned company, or indeed any company.


- Shandwick recommended the creation of a community front group as a 'West Coast voice' arguing for Timberlands' agenda. (p.157). Later, the company drafted letters for Timberlands to pass on to 'independent' West Coast people in the front group to sign.

- Shandwick consultant Rob McGregor used his contacts in the Civil Aviation Authority to help head off a CAA investigation into an incident where Heli Harvest, Timberlands' helicopter contractor, put a tree-sitter' s life at risk.

- Shandwick infiltrated environment groups gather information.

- Shandwick attacked the funding sources of environment groups opposed to the logging. It looked for 'dirt' on the Body Shop, who had given money to Native Forest Action, and then tried to get a business paper to write a damning story (p. 51).

 "There are many other examples of dirty dealings documented in the book, the evidence for which all comes from Shandwick's own internal papers."

"Shandwick should apologise to those it has manipulated, to environment groups it has harassed, and to the New Zealand public who it has deceived," said Mr Baigent-Mercer. "The company should be held to account for these tactics which are not acceptable in New Zealand."

"We are protesting because we were the target of many of their unethical practices. As people exercising our public right to advocate for the protection of the forests, we find the role this public relations company has played to attempt to denigrate our campaign highly objectionable and totally unacceptable," said Mr Baigent-Mercer.

Ends.


Press Release: Nicky Hager
20/08/99 07:23:00

FORMAL COMPLAINT TO BE MADE TO PUBLIC RELATIONS INSTITUTE OVER TIMBERLANDS' PR CAMPAIGN ON FRIDAY MORNING

20 August

Bob Burton, co-author of Secrets and Lies, will deliver a formal complaint to the ethics committee of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) tomorrow morning requesting that they investigate the PR Timberlands campaign for breaches of the Institute's Code of Professional Practice.

Bob Burton has extensive experience writing, commenting and lecturing on the PR industry in Australia and is visiting New Zealand for 10 days for the launch of the book.

"PRINZ should investigate Timberlands' PR advisers over likely breaches of at least eight of the Institute's ethical guidelines for PR practitioners", Bob Burton said. "This is an important test case for whether the public relations institute is prepared to ensure its members uphold 'the highest standards of honesty, accuracy, integrity and decency'".

"I am sceptical about the ability of the the PR industry to self-regulate itself and believe the public should watch closely to see how the Institute handles the apparent unethical behaviour in the Timberlands case."

Particularly aspects of the Code of Professional Conduct that I beleive you should direct your attention to include the following provisions:

- "Conduct their professional activities in accord with the public interest and abide by the laws affecting the practice of public relations and business";

- "Adhere to the highest standards of honesty, accuracy, integrity and decency";

- "Not knowingly disseminate false or misleading information and act promptly to correct an erroneous communication for which they are responsible";

- "Not abuse the channels of public communication or the process of Government";

- "Always conduct themselves and their businesses in a manner that reflect favourably on the practice of public relations and the Insitute, and encourage other practitioners to do so too";

- "Always fully and publicly disclosing any client or business interest in all published editorial work";

- "Be prepared to identify publicly the name of the clients or employer on whose behalf any public communication is made"; and

- "Be committed to uphold, and where necessary, enforce the Code, and inform the Insitute of any evidence that a member may have breached the Code".



Protest at Civil Aviation Authority

Press Release: Native Forest Action
20/08/99 09:02:00

Protest at Civil Aviation Authority: shonky investigation looks like it was swayed by lobbying

This morning Native Forest Action campaigners are protesting outside the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in Lower Hutt, to draw attention to questionable connections between the CAA, Timberlands and its PR company Shandwick over a case in which a Native Forest Action treesitter's life was put seriously at risk by the actions of a helicopter pilot.

Native Forest Action will deliver a letter to CAA chief executive officer Kevin Ward. The letter demands that the CAA take responsibility for re-investigating the issue given the evidence brought to light in Secrets and Lies, a book published on Tuesday by Nicky Hager and Bob Burton.

"And we want the Authority to publicly apologise to Native Forest Action and to Jenny Coleman whose life was put at risk, for the way it conducted its original investigation," said NFA spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer.


"We are also calling for an independent inquiry into the objectionable way the CAA conducted this very serious case, which we believe to be biased."

Secrets and Lies contains documentary evidence from leaked Timberlands and Shandwick correspondence that the CAA inquiry was influenced by the lobbying efforts of Shandwick.

"I spoke to Martyn Gosling from Civil Aviation.... I got the strong feeling that there are not going to be any problems for you from this inquiry. I was also told that we have to remain silent on this for the time being," Rob McGregor, Shandwick fax to Timberlands, 8 July 1997, stamped 'CONFIDENTIAL'. (pp. 59-60)

The incident, which led to the Native Forest Action complaint to CAA, took place on 16 April 1997 when Timberlands launched an aggressive attack named 'Operation Alien' aimed at clearing the treesitting protesters out of Charleston Forest. Heli-Harvest, Timberlands' heli-logging contractor repeatedly rammed a 5-tonne log, attached to the chopper by a rope, into a treetop platform. Native Forest Action member Jenny Coleman was beneath the tree, preparing to climb, when the tree-top assault started. She ran for her life, as debris and sticks rained down upon her. Her screams were heard and noted in Timberlands' staff diary: "RH, CH and Mat hear woman screaming on ridge 30 metres from platform..."(p. 58)

The CAA eventually concluded (after lobbying by Shandwick) that 'reasonable' steps had been taken to clear the area, and accepted a version of events from the pilot which contradicted all other evidence.

 "We feel our complaint was unfairly prejudiced by a shonky investigation and Shandwick's lobbying to get Timberlands off the hook in this. As a result Timberlands and Heli-Harvest have not yet been made to take responsibility for their appalling actions," said Mr Baigent-Mercer.

"We're sure that if it was a family that could have been killed rather than a forest protester this case would have been treated completely differently from the beginning."

"We are extremely angry and upset that Jen's life was put seriously at risk and the obvious conclusions of the investigation were swept under the carpet."

The protest and letter delivery will take place from 8-9am in front of commuter traffic at the Civil Aviation Authority, Aviation House, cnr Market Grove and Woburn Road. _


Native Forest Action
Media release
Tuesday 24 August 1999


TIMBERLANDS AND TONY RYALL: THE TAIL IS WAGGING THE DOG

SOE Minister Tony Ryall's announcement today that Timberlands beech logging scheme has got the go-ahead shows the government bending to the political campaign that has been waged by Timberlands and its PR companies over the last three years.

"What this says to the public is that the over a million dollars that Timberlands has spent over the past two years on public relations is the price it took for buying the support of Tony Ryall and Jenny Shipley for the beech logging scheme," said Native Forest Action spokesperson, Dean Baigent-Mercer.

"The government has today guaranteed that native forest logging is an election issue. It has ignored three years of campaigning, and 10,000 submissions against the beech scheme and it leaves the public no option but to decide the issue at the election," said Mr Baigent-Mercer.

"The public should watch with scepticism as the arguments Tony Ryall uses to justify the beech scheme mirror the PR lines that have now been exposed in the book, 'Secrets and Lies'."

For more information, contact: Dean Baigent-Mercer, 04 383 5168
or 025-2085-288


Native Forest Action - Media Release
Monday 30 August 1999

MINISTER CONFIRMS PLANS TO PRIVATISE TIMBERLANDS

Speaking at the annual ECO conference held over the weekend, the Minister of Conservation, Dr Nick Smith confirmed that the government plans to privatise Timberlands West Coast Ltd - with the feeble reassurance that this wouldn't happen "before the election".

"West Coasters have been sold a public relations dream of hundreds of new West Coast jobs by Timberlands and the government with the beech forest logging scheme. In reality, the government couldn't wait to get the beech logging begun to make the controversial company more attractive to investers", said Native Forest Action spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer.

"If Timberlands is privatised the West Coast will lose their native forests and exotic plantations providing work for only a small handful of local jobs, while the vast majority of timber is exported as whole logs to other regions and overseas."

"There is a way out however: to negotiate a regional development package which will leave native forests unlogged, maintaining biodiversity and utilised for the tourist industry, and transfer the control of the state-owned pine plantations to local councils who would ensure West Coasters get the most employment out of the deal." "The privatisation of Timberlands would ensure the least possible work for West Coasters. As it is, a large percentage of West Coast pine, rimu and beech is being exported to other regions without the local region benefitting much for having these resources extracted."

Native Forest Action has been aware of plans to sell Timberlands after three Japanese companies were approached by the company last year.

"Native Forest Action wonders when and if the Timberlands front grounp Coast Action Native (CAN) will speak out against the plans to privatise Timberlands".

For more information contact: Dean Baigent-Mercer
04-383-5168 or 025-2085-288


Native Forest Action
Media Release
Thursday 2 September 1999

TIMBERLANDS SURPRISINGLY PAYS NO DIVIDEND - AGAIN

Controversial SOE Timberlands West Coast Ltd have again announced they will not be paying a dividend to the government for logging publicly-owned native rainforests and pine plantations. The decision is published in Timberlands annual report tabled in parliament this week.

"For 10 years the state have been heavily subsidising Timberlands to clearfell and 'overcut' our rainforests. This period has seen Timberlands paying between $3 and $15 for centuries old native trees. If they couldn't make a financial return to the state in the past ten years by logging in the cheapest and most environmentally destructive way, then the state will never see a dividend," said Native Forest Action spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer.

"Any possible returns have been unscrupulously and immediately pumped into Timberlands' public relations budget aimed at lobbying politicians and buying local West Coast support through sponsorship to support the continuation and expansion of their native forest logging".

"Timberlands appears to be the Prime Minister, Minister of SOE and Minister of Conservation's favourite charity - all of them have have bent over backwards to condone or deny Timberlands unethical anti-environmental public relations campaign in current weeks. It seems Timberlands is the government's spoilt bratty child and no amount of misbehaving and embarressment will result in appropriate disipline", said Mr Baigent-Mercer.

"Since 1990 Timberlands have only ever paid one 'special divided' - $600,000 last year - and only because the Treasurer leant heavily on them. The dividend was financed by selling a subsiduary spagnum moss company. Offically they have never paid a cent in dividend to the government for their destructive native forest logging."

For further information contact: Dean Baigent-Mercer
                                 383-5168 or 025-2085-288


Native Forest Action
Media Release
Friday 10 September 1999

NATIVE FOREST ACTION SUPPORTIVE OF LABOUR'S STRONG STANCE ON NATIVE FORESTS

Todays announcement of Labour's policy on the West Coast native forests currently being logged by Timberlands, has been received with strong approval from Native Forest Action.

"Labours'policy has the integrity of having both the native forests and West Coast employment best interests at heart", said Native Forest Action spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer, "It will protect West Coast jobs from Timberlands' otherwise looming privatisation by National and Act and protect the endangered wildlife from habitat destruction by Timberlands' chainsaws".

"Labour can enter the new millenium with a clear conscience on the issue of logging state-owned native forests if it becomes the new government. This issue has been a festering wound between conservationists and the Crown since 1971. It has taken guts for Labour to promote this outcome which will see both local employment and our biodiversity benefit".

"Despite all the secrets and lies surrounding Timberlands' logging of West Coast native forests, Labour has steered it's way through the grubby PR hype to show visionary leadership and a solid meaningful policy".


"By ending the logging of the native forests and providing the local community with a sincere regional development package intending to create local jobs - aimed at no nett job losses - both conservation and the West Coast community are the winners".


For further information contact: Dean Baigent-Mercer
04-383-5168 or 025-2085-288


Native Forest Action
Media Release
Saturday 11 September 1999

HYSTERICAL REACTION PREDICTABLE AND UNSUBSTANCIATED - NFA

Native Forest Action today shrugged off the hysterical reaction to yesterdays announcement that Labour would end West Coast native logging if it wins the election.

"The hysterical reaction from Jim Sutton and Damien O'Connor over Labour's policy decision to end Timberlands' West Coast native forest logging is totally predictable because they have long been a small anti-conservation clique in the Labour caucus," said Dean Baigent-Mercer spokesperson for Native Forest Action, "Despite their tantrums, public opinion is overwhelmingly in support of this unnecessary rainforest logging ending".

"Contrary to recent media depiction, messages of celebration and appreciation have been flowing into conservation groups from all over the country - including the West Coast - thrilled with Labour's decision".

"The claim by the Furniture Association of NZ that the end of Timberlands' native logging will result in 4,000 job losses is ridiculous and totally unsubstanciated. The Furniture Association of NZ have been cultivated as lobbying allies by Timberlands and their PR company Shandwick over the past 5 months to lobby Labour as a third party".

"Last year Timberlands claimed that an end to their logging would end in 100 job losses, then 200, then 500. A few months ago, along with the Furniture Association of NZ, the story had changed again: this time 2,000 job losses. And now 4,000. We strongly suspect these figures are unsubstanciated and are being used to whip up hysteria and anti-Labour feeling".

"New Zealand has many plantations of specialist timbers such as eucalyptus, macrocarpa, black walnut, and douglas fir which have been under-used awaiting the day when native logging is phased back".


"Voters finally have a clear choice: if  National/ACT win the election West Coast native logging will expand; if opposition parties win, the logging will end".

For further comment contact: Dean Baigent-Mercer
      04-383-5168 or 025-2085-288


Native Forest Action
Media Release
Wednesday 15 September 1999

National, Act, and NZ First marching to Timberlands' drum

Politicians continue to be the pawns of Timberlands' public relations manipulation by attacking Labour for its policy announcement to end Timberlands' native forest logging on the West Coast, says Native Forest Action.

"National, ACT and NZ First are marching to Timberlands rainforest logging agenda and in the process are defending the indefensible," said Native Forest Action spokesperson Dean Baigent-Mercer.

"National, ACT and NZ First are more influenced by Timberlands' PR campaign than national public opinion and are supporting the despicable secrets and lies of Timberlands."

"The hysteria whipped up on the West Coast by CAN, Timberlands' front group, against Labour's policy announcement is being used as a political football by ACT and National."

"Labour's native forest logging policy is a win for conservation by protecting the forests and a win for West Coast employment with the formation of a local trust which will manage the $68 million pine estate keeping local people employed. This is in stark contrast to National/ACT policy where Timberlands and the cutting rights to our native forests would be privatised, meaning degraded forests, and few West Coast jobs."

For further information contact: Dean Baigent-Mercer
                                 383-5168 or 025-2085-288


Locals supported Cullen during Coast visit
>
> The News, 13 September 1999 failed to report the fact that 19 locals attended Michael Cullen's arrival at Westport Airport on Monday in support of Labour's policy to stop native logging on public land in exchange for an economic development package.  "The paper implied that all of the 50 people who greeted Mr Cullen were opposed to Labour's plans" said Peter Russell, Native Forest Action's West Coast spokesperson.
>
> The supporters involved local members of Buller Conservation Group and
> independent locals not aligned with any particular organisation.  "All of the
> supporters live in the Buller and most have lived on the Coast for decades.
> Some
> have been on the Coast all their lives and included fifth and sixth generation
> Coasters, one being a former coal miner."  Native Forest Action has learned
> that a
> similar group of people from the Greymouth District had arranged to meet with
> Mr
> Cullen in Greymouth, but the contemptible behaviour of some of the protestors
> in
> Greymouth caused the meeting to be cancelled.
>
> "The independant Buller supporters presented a letter to Mr Cullen which
> stated
> that 'there are plenty of people on the Coast who are delighted with Labour's
> decision to end the logging of publicly owned native forests in return for an
> economic development package for the West Coast'" said Mr Russell.
>
> Some of BCG spokesman Terry Sumner's comments were mentioned in the
> paper.  Although Dave Hawes of Reefton sent The News a statement on behalf of
> the independant supporters, none of its comments were contained in the paper.
> "Their statement outlined concerns such as Timberlands' lack of committment to
> the Buller's economy and the likelihood of Timberlands being privatised by
> government.  It also questioned Coast Action Network's motives and mentioned
> concern about being misrepresented by "loud-mouths who have a habit of
> implying
> that they speak for all West Coasters'" said Mr Russell.
>
> "The presence of the supporters could not have gone unnoticed to reporters at
> the
> small airport terminal because they cheered and clapped at Cullen's comments
> and held placards and banners with slogans such as  "jobs, not logging",
> "c'mon
> Damien (O'Connor), get in behind!" and "Shipley kills kiwis".  It is easy to
> get the
> impression that the paper deliberately avoided mentioning the presence of
> locals
> who support Labour's policy to help maintain the myth that West Coasters
> generally want native logging to continue" said Mr Russell.  Native Forest
> Action
> hopes The News will be more accurate with its reporting in future.
>
> Peter Russell
> Naive Forest Action
> 03/789-8734

 


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