Motion (to he put to the AGM of the New Zealand Ecological Society. Hamilton, 21 November 2000)
"That the Ecological Society holds the view that in many areas of New Zealand biodiversity, conservation goals can be best achieved by accommodating the reasonable economic interests of local people, where these can be pursued at a level that is ecologically sustainable, both locally and globally."
Proposer: Peter Wardle
Seconders: David Norton, David Given
The international conservation and resource management literature shows that the principle expressed in the motion is generally accepted, and there seems no reason why New Zealand should be an exception. However, last year's decision by the incoming government to quash the proposed beech management scheme on the West Coast through a political decision, rather than allowing it to be tested through established resource planning procedures, was contrary to this principle, We raise the matter at this time for five reasons:
- Because we believe that the Ecological Society is in a position to develop balanced arid influential opinions on such matters.
- Because it is possible that the beech management proposals will be resurrected after the next or subsequent general elections, it would behove the Society to develop a considered and agreed set of principles in advance. Indeed, the issue may well be revisited sooner, during an inquiry being set up by the Parliamentary Primary Production Select Committee to consider issues concerning indigenous forests.
- Because frustration on the West Coast at the quashing of a proposal that was at least potentially sustainable is leading to alternative proposals that may be more environmentally damaging and politically divisive, In particular, we refer to the proposals to build major roads m the Heaphy-Kararnea and Cascade-Hollyford districts. While some of the important issues involved here may not be ecological, others certainly are, including the effects of roads on wilderness, and the consumption of non-renewable resources that would be entailed in the construction and subsequent public use of such roads.
- Because the rejection of proposals to sustainably log on the public estate in New Zealand is fuelling opposition to sustainable logging in native forest in private arid Maori ownership. This opposition is currently being expressed through clear-felling of native forest, to pre-empt any lock-up of the timber resource by government decree.
- Because New Zealand has the reputation of having enlightened conservation and resource policies, the rejection of the proposal to sustainably log on the public estate in New Zealand is seen as undermining the global adoption of sustainable use of resources, especially in Third World countries. That New Zealand's current demand for hardwood timber is being met from tropical forests puts us in a similar position to Japan, which protects its own native forests while directly or indirectly exploiting native forests in other regions.