Forest owners advise limited co-operation with government

30 Jan 2006

The NZ Forest Owners Association has advised its members to help officials identify which forests would qualify as Kyoto forests for carbon accounting purposes. Kyoto forests are those planted from 1 January 1990.

The association says the move is an indication of an improvement in relations between forest owners and the government. The two parties have been at loggerheads since former climate change minister Pete Hodgson announced the government's Kyoto policies in October 2002.

However chief executive David Rhodes says the ban on officials having physical access to privately-owned forests for carbon monitoring purposes still remains in place.

Forest owners remain opposed to the nationalisation of carbon credits in privately owned Kyoto forests, and a proposed new tax from 2008 on owners of non-Kyoto forests if they fail to replant 90 percent of the area they harvest.

Mr Rhodes says the association is responding to a number of positive signals the government has made about the treatment of forests under its climate change policy.

"As yet we do not know what the new policy options will look like but we are encouraged by recent developments.

"While many of our members no doubt feel the government is merely accepting reality and should have acted a long time ago, it is nonetheless a significant contrast to the government's position of six months ago. The association's executive committee wants to respond positively to these moves while continuing dialogue with officials on the appropriate policy options to implement."

The association has been influenced by approaches from both the new climate change minister David Parker and forestry minister Jim Anderton. Both have acknowledged messages in the official review of the government's Kyoto policies which highlight that forestry is being treated inequitably and have confirmed that new policy options were being worked on. Advice on these alternative policy options is expected by March 2006.

"Specifically the government has signalled it will ‘explore alternative measures to address deforestation liabilities ’. It also acknowledged there is insufficient recognition of the environmental services provided by forests which includes the mitigation of climate change," Mr Rhodes says.

"The review is relatively positive from an NZFOA perspective. It includes a range of alternative options to the status quo, including removing the deforestation cap and devolution of carbon credits to forest owners — options which were previously not on the table. It was acknowledged that the positions put forward through the NZFOA-led engagement with officials had influenced the review document."

He says the association's executive considers that assisting officials to identify Kyoto forests is in the best overall interests of members. Also, it does not compromise any of the association's previously stated positions with respect to the monitoring ban.

The association has recommended that its members agree to provide the information sought.

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For more information, please contact:
David Rhodes, chief executive, NZFOA. Tel: 04 473 4769. Mobile: 0274 955 525