it's not just Ecuador that is gambling with the future of its parks for oil. As ALERT member Craig Morley reports, New Zealand is getting in on the act too:
The New Zealand Government is opening up over 4,600 square kilometers of conservation land for petroleum exploration. This land is on the West Coast region of the South Island and includes almost all of Victoria Forest Park, the largest forest park of its type in the country.
Victoria Forest Park is not a National Park per se, but rather a 'Schedule 4 Forest Park'. However, the New Zealand Department of Conservation describes it as having untouched pristine landscapes with rivers, lakes, and mountain scenery, as well as pristine beech forest. Great spotted kiwi, an iconic species unique to New Zealand, can also be heard at night.
The Green Party says the Energy Minister should be embarrassed for failing to realize he's offered up conservation land for petroleum exploration. When interviewed, the Energy Minister, Simon Bridges, didn’t even know where the Victoria Forest Park was located.
The last few years have seen major protests against mining-exploration activity on land administered by the Department of Conservation. The key question is: will this trend of exploring Forest Parks for fossil fuels continue, and will our hunger for energy “accidentally expand” into our treasured National Parks as well?