Battle to save forests began in 60s Fight For The Forests By Paul Benseman, Potton and Burton, $70, hardback .. ..
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What an impressive book this is — beautifully put together, well written, and with many scintillating colour photos. It is also a book which tells how committed people fought for the visual and environmental benefit of NZ, and won.
The war (for it was a battle fought on many fronts) to save the native forests began in the 1960s with the battle to stop Lake Manapouri being drowned. Other successes included were the creation of a World Heritage Area in South Westland, the saving of most of the beech forests, the establishment of Paparoa National Park, and the podocarp forests of Pureora and Whirinaki had been saved from the chainsaw.
The most inspiring story is the beech forests success, which only happened when a group of young students holidayed in the area and were appalled to learn that the forests were to be felled and replanted with radiata pine.
The fight was long and difficult. Those in favour of the pine plantings were entrenched and committed — local authorities and big business and state departments. Some of the comments in support of logging were fatuous in the extreme — one was that the dark green of pine was more beautiful that native bush. Another, and even more absurd, was the claim that 34 varieties of birds could live in pine forests. But opposition swelled — and eventually the blend of idealism and realism won.
And we should all be grateful for that. Is there a worse scar on NZ’s “green and pleasant land”, to plagiarise English poet Blake, than the areas where the pines have been recently logged? That hundreds of thousands of hectares of beautiful bush and forest could have met this fate doesn’t bear thinking about.