Forest industry remains united

15 Feb 2007

The NZ Forest Owners Association says the forestry sector is united in its opposition to the Government's land use climate change proposals.

Each organisation in the industry is free to respond to the proposals in its own way. But our Association, the Federation of Maori Authorities, the NZ Farm Forestry Association and the Kyoto Forestry Association, fully supports the six point plan which we put to all members of parliament in mid-2006," said NZFOA chief executive David Rhodes, in response to a media release issued by Forestry Minister Jim Anderton last night.

"It is very important the Government and its support parties understand that the nationalisation of private assets without compensation is totally unacceptable.

"Just because you can't see the carbon that’s locked up in trees doesn't make it any less real. It has value, it's measurable, and it exists only because thousands of individuals and companies decided to invest their money in growing trees on land which was once in pasture."

He says imposing a deforestation tax on those who planted trees before Kyoto was even thought of is also unacceptable.

"Regardless of the level at which it is set, the tax is forcing forest owners into a three-way dilemma. They can cut their trees down and change land-use before the end of 2007 without penalty, they can change land use after 2007 and pay the tax, or continue growing trees on possibly unsuitable land.

"Our members, and the members of the other industry organisations, are forest owners. For many of them, trees are a lifetime interest and forestry is a career they feel passionately about.

"For people like this to be talking of leaving the industry is a measure of the anger and frustration they feel about a Government that has put them in an impossible situation."

He says the Government could achieve its goals by providing incentives rather than penalties; putting greater emphasis on carrots rather than sticks.

The forest industry’s 6-point Kyoto plan

The NZFOA, NZFFA, KFA & FOMA agree that the New Zealand Government needs to:

1. Remove the inequitable, retrospective ‘deforestation cap ’.

2. Allow land owners with Kyoto-qualifying forests (forests planted from 1990) — as well as those replanting non-Kyoto forests after harvest — to financially benefit from the value of the carbon their forests remove from the atmosphere.

3. Introduce broad-based carbon charges, ensuring that all emitters of greenhouse gases face the same opportunity costs.

4. Ensure that New Zealand's Kyoto policies have the best long-term outcomes for New Zealand, even if they don't exactly mirror current Kyoto rules.

5. Develop a regime which puts a value on the environmental attributes of forestry, thereby encouraging investment in the sector.

6. Act immediately. Because forestry will inevitably be part of any rational climate change policy developed for New Zealand, forestry policies should be developed now to help the country meet its carbon emission obligations in the first Kyoto commitment period.