UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: March 7, 301 AP.

President announces 9 million acre park

President Okarvits today announced that it was his intention to create a massive nine million acre (3.6 million hectare or 36,000 sq.km) National Park under a bill recently approved by the Parliament.

It is one of the most historic and important moves in his Presidency, in Utania's history so far, say supporters.

The proposed National Park covers the entire Ujam-Letherington-Yoamith jungle, and will effectively end numerous logging businesses that have been operating in the jungle for the past hundred of more years. The wilderness area has been slowly encroached upon by civilisation over a period of several thousand years, but never so quickly as under the Guwimithian regime. The jungle once covered half of the states of Nystonia and Lasanne, and a little more of Savana, but had been extensively logged under the Guwmithian regime to provide space for farms and wood for Guwimithian buildings and furniture. Similar damage to jungle has been effected in all the former Guwimithian Dependencies.

"This would have to be one of the most exciting, turn-about days in my entire life", claimed Dawn K'njosa, leader of the Free Green Collective (FGC), an environmental party that failed to gain a seat in the September elections, despite support from over a quarter-million voters. The cousin of the Kanharan Chief-king has campaigned for an end to logging for ten years, and regards this announcement as "a modern day miraculous event, a dream come true, and a... simply indescribable event."

However, the news comes as a shock to the government-owned logging industry, which employed thousands of workers. "What will we do now? What job shall we go to? My ancestors have worked these woods for a hundred years, and now the President says 'no more?'" asked an angry Eric Natama, adding "I shall never vote for him again!"

President Okarvits was pragmatic about the logging, saying that he would order the mostly government-owned logging companies not to put off workers. His plan was to use plantation timber. "We must become more reliant on renewable resources, and plantation timber is a renewable resource we must use far more."

President Okarvits said engineers were scouring the countryside for suitable areas for plantation timber, and would begin planting saplings immediately. In the interim, there would be "limited logging" in the jungle parkland, much to the disappointment of environmental groups, to be rapidly phased out for commercial, plantation logging.

Opposition MPs say this is ridiculous: "You cannot grow a plantation of trees within the three years allowed by this legislation, even if the number of saplings the President is talking about were available tomorrow! He is deluding himself on this point and should extend the logging date until at least 320, when a reasonable stock of plantation trees are available." That suggestion horrifies FGC's K'njosa, who says that within that time, the park will lose "at least" 10% of its jungle.

The opposition have vowed to fight the executive order, which the legislation says must be opposed by proportionally more MPs than passed the original bill. This means that the opposition will be likely unable to successfully oppose the order, or reverse it within the current Parliament. Furthermore, if they were to win the next election, due between 303 and 305 AP, public opinion would be, by then, firmly against removing the National Park.

This fact pleases none more than it does the President. Though it covers only 3.85% of the country, he regards the proposed National Park as "Utania's gift to the next two-hundred generations of Utanians", which is the approximate number of generations of Utani linage since Pethonis, father of the Utani people, who would have seen jungles almost to the coast of Nystonia and Lasanne.

"Tropical jungles, such as this one, provide the planet with thousands of species of animals and plants, and must be protected, lest we see the end of entire species within our lifetime", explained President Okarvits. The President went on to explain at the special press conference that the park had an estimated 300 species of butterflies, 400 species of birds, many of which would not be found anywhere else in the entire of Vexillium.

"I will not be known", the President announced to the assembled press corp, "as the President who let the destruction continue of hundreds of plant, animal and insect species, that my great grandchildren would never see. No. The entire Utani culture is interwoven with the jungles, and intertwined with the animals and plants of this unique country. We cannot let this variety, this magnificent beauty be lost."

"And, to answer your next question, yes, I would allow myself to lose a Presidential election over this very issue", the President announced, to the horror of government MPs, adding, "But I firmly believe that the entire Utani nation is behind me, with thousands and millions of Uta-Decashi who can see the value of this heritage we will leave our children's grandchildren."

While the opposition is in full-fledged fight mode over this, the battle may be over before it is started. The Burovian and Utani Progressive parties have agreed to support the executive order, which, along with government and the two Yannist MPs, brings the "yea"s to 88, or over 60% of MPs, the "magical" number over which only a determined opposition would succeed in overcoming to remove the National Park.

The President's order also provides funding for a Ujam-Yoamith National Park Rangers service of some 600 scientists, pilots and guards. It will be the largest park declaration since the creation of Mesto Park on the Delgamian continent, and fewer than ten thousand jungle inhabitants will live in the confines of the park.

Area covered by national park

©UPA, 301 AP.

©Mike Ham, 2001. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)