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Northern forest road approval irritates environmentalists

Date Posted: 2009-04-02

More than 60 people, including groups of Okinawa environmental protection activists, crowded into an auditorium to voice opinions to the Okinawa Prefecture Assembly on a planned forest road.

The issue was whether a new road being cut through a northern forest was the right thing to do, with advocates saying the Kunigami Village forest road was essential, while opponents asked “are you going to kill the endangered animals?” Promoters of the planned road told assembly members “It has to go on. The forest is the food for us, and we are only taking what we need. The road through the forest is not only help us, but other industrial work like mushroom cultivation and pottery production factories.”

Assembly members repeatedly heard passionate pleas for the road, even as opponents shouted “we are not only against making the road through the forest, but we want to use the budget to protect nature, and to make it easy to reclaim trees.” Environmentalists argued budgets should be used to let forestry officials keep businesses that are compatible with nature, while Kunigami Village supporters countered that the budget should be used for the entire area, and not only for constructing the new road.

Activists who’ve been opposing the Awase Tidelands Reclamation Project joined environmentalists opposed to northern Okinawa development. That project was addressed briefly, but since Awase reclamation work has already been approved, it will continue despite the protesters’ objections.

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