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May 2014 Issue
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Editor’s letter

Huge congratulations to the winners of the inaugural Wilderness Outdoor Awards.

Just shy of 3000 people participated in the final round of voting, making the awards a real badge of honour for those who won. You can read all about the winners on p22.

We’ll be running the awards again later this year, though this time we plan to expand the categories to include a ‘gear of the year’ award. This will recognise excellence in product design and unlike the current categories (Independent Retailer, Chain Retailer, Online Retailer, Brand and Conservation or Access initiative) which are nominated by and voted on by readers, this new category will be decided by Wilderness editors and gear reviewers: product that has been thoroughly tested and proven to work.

So keep an eye out for the 2015 Wilderness Outdoor Awards – if your favourite brand or retailer didn’t win this time, you can help them win in 2015.

You have to wonder at how secure the conservation estate is when the Minister of Energy and Resources hands out oil and gas prospecting rights to forest parks without even knowing it.

In April, Simon Bridges parcelled up huge tracts of land and sea for exploratory drilling. Part of the land included Victoria Forest Park – at 200,000ha the largest forest park in the country. Bridges admitted in a TV interview he hadn’t even heard of the park. This begs the question: why didn’t the Minister for Conservation, Nick Smith, warn him? That’s assuming Smith was even consulted.

It’s a worrying sign of a lack of communication between the two ministries and doesn’t bode well for the conservation estate. Forest parks don’t enjoy the protection of national parks – and that’s fair enough: not all conservation land can and it’s only right some elbow room is given in some areas to allow for development of some kind at some stage. Ultimately, the people of New Zealand will decide when, how much, and what kind of development is appropriate.

But if prospecting rights to a valued recreational asset like Victoria Forest Park, described by DOC as containing ‘untouched landscapes with stunning river, lake and mountain scenery, as well as pristine beech forest’, can be doled out seemingly willy-nilly, what hope is there for the future of our more treasured, on paper at least, parks – several of which have come under sustained developmental pressure in recent years?

– Alistair Hall