Nats' forest carbon initiative welcomed
The Forest Owners Association has welcomed the forestry and climate change policies advanced by the National Party in
its Bluegreen Vision for New Zealand.
"National has now developed some well-reasoned and imaginative policies which will be well received by forest owners,"
says NZFOA chief executive David Rhodes.
"Our members have been challenging National to be specific about the climate change policies it would adopt if it
assumed the Treasury benches. This is an important step in the right direction.
"The Greens and now National have put reasonably comprehensive climate change policies on the table. We now await with
great interest what the government is going to come up with."
He says forest owners particularly welcome National's promise to abolish the 10 per cent deforestation cap and the
immediate introduction of a requirement for power stations burning fossil fuels to buy carbon credits.
"This would require a basic tradable emission permit system to be set up, providing an income stream for carbon storage
to those forest owners who want to take part," Mr Rhodes says.
"It may take several years to design a comprehensive trading scheme, but National has recognised the importance of
making the vital first step. By allowing the market to put a value on carbon, those industries like forestry which
improve the country's emissions profile will be encouraged."
He says National's proposal to work with the World Trade Organisation to ensure that imported wood products meet
sustainability standards similar to those met by New Zealand growers was very positive.
"We also welcome the proposal to support a public awareness campaign to encourage New Zealanders to buy wood products
produced from forests which meet internationally-accepted certification standards. The industry itself already plans to
fund a similar promotion, and would welcome cross-party support for this."
In a speech to the Climate Change Symposium in Wellington today Mr Rhodes said the forest industry's interest in climate
change did not end with the harvesting of trees.
"The carbon stored in harvested wood is a significant environmental benefit arising from forestry, but it is not
accounted for in the first Kyoto commitment period.
"The climate change policies adopted by the government and our major political parties need to look beyond 2012. They
need to be based on what is rational and workable for New Zealand in the long-term."
Commenting afterwards, Mr Rhodes said it was important that all the major political parties were willing to debate
climate change policies constructively.
"Ultimately we expect to see a partnership between the forest industry and government in which the value of carbon
credits is shared," he says.
"But for this to be effective in an industry in which trees planted today will be harvested by another generation, the
partnership needs to be based on efficient and enduring market-based mechanisms which have broad cross-party support."