Forest owners welcome border levy

14 October 2015

Forest owners are welcoming the planned introduction of the new clearance levy to help fund border biosecurity.

"It is important that those who benefit from travel and tourism pay their share of keeping our farms, forests, orchards and national parks safe from pest incursions," says Forest Owners Association biosecurity chairman Dave Cormack."The costs borne by individual travellers will be small, relative to the cost of flying or sailing to New Zealand, but collectively they will make a big contribution."

The levy was announced today by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Customs Minister Nicky Wagner following public consultation. It comes into effect on 1 January 2016 and will be NZ$18.76 + GST for air travellers and those arriving and departing on private craft, and NZ$22.80 + GST for cruise passengers.

Mr Cormack says the forest industry, like horticulture and livestock farming, are highly dependent on good biosecurity. There are insects and diseases out there that could devastate plantation forestry, in the same way that foot and mouth would be catastrophic for livestock farming.

"The forest industry has funded its own forest health surveillance scheme for many decades. This is now being refined using international expertise, to ensure we are monitoring the areas of greatest risk as well as keeping a close watch on a cross-section of forests nationwide," Mr Cormack says.

"As part of this refinement we have also integrated our surveillance with the biosecurity operations of the Ministry for Primary Industries, which tend to focus on ports and places like national park access points where travellers unpack their tramping and camping gear."

He says the Forest Owners and Farm Forestry Associations are in the final stages of negotiating a Government Industry Agreement which will detail where responsibilities and costs will lie in the event that there is need to combat a pest or disease incursion.

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For more information, please ring Dave Cormack, Tel 021 222 9315