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Budget fails to plan for forest future

Published: Thu 25 May 2017 04:24 PM
News Media Statement
25 May 2017
Budget fails to plan for forest future
Forest Owners Association President Peter Clark says the Budget is money for urban New Zealanders’ immediate concerns, and he says it fails to provide and prepare for the scale of afforestation necessary for New Zealand to meet its Paris Agreement commitments on climate change.
“There is the status quo allocation of $19.5 million in the Budget for the Afforestation Grants Scheme, which was set up some time ago to encourage more tree planting to lock up atmospheric carbon. But the AGS just scratches the surface of what is needed, and being tax-payer funded is not the answer to the problem.”
“There is plenty of private money, both within New Zealand and offshore that would invest in tree planting if the policies impacting on land use and land values were to put forestry on a level playing field with pastoral agriculture.”
Peter Clark says forestry and timber processing may benefit from a further cash injection for the railway network, funds for primary industry research and a boost in our trade access resources. But he says he can’t see any priority for what the government has already acknowledged as another serious problem, of recruitment and training of workers in the primary industries, including forestry.
“Just a year ago the government launched its Primary Industry Champions scheme as a major project. Now, it seems to have lost momentum. In forestry, we have an acute labour shortage that is only going to get worse unless something major is done, and that applies right through most of the primary sector,” Peter Clark says.
He says another serious gap in the Budget is the lack of funding for the regional road network.
“Unbelievable amounts in this Budget are going into sorting the traffic woes of New Zealand’s big cities, but there is an equally great need for funding to back up the cash strapped local authorities who are trying to keep local roads going and servicing the industries which generate the taxes to fund the Budget in the first place.”

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