Bat­tle to save forests be­gan in 60s Fight For The Forests By Paul Bense­man, Pot­ton and Bur­ton, $70, hard­back .. ..

Havelock North Village Press - - News - Graeme Bar­row

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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.

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