Central North Island foresters say gutting the value of carbon credits from forestry would sharply reduce both the region’s forest carbon sequestration and its economy.
The government is consulting on the Emissions Trading Scheme, to reduce the area of exotic trees being planted.
The Central North Island Wood Council says its region is highly dependent on forestry and wood processing and negative signals from the government have caused industry uncertainty, just when confidence is most needed.
There are more than 500,000 hectares of exotic forests in the region, nearly a third of the national total.
The Port of Tauranga is easily the busiest of New Zealand’s forestry export ports, handling well over a billion dollars’ worth of logs and sawn timber exports a year.
The CNI Wood Council Chair and spokesperson Colin Maunder, says the forests in the region sequester an additional seven million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from the atmosphere.
“Put the economic and environmental contribution together and the region is a huge contributor at the national level – and vastly more so locally.”
“We have a council in Rotorua which backs forestry with its Wood First timber use policy. It’s a shame that the importance of forestry isn’t recognised in Wellington.”
Colin Maunder says because forestry is such a long-term investment, most of the effects of a low carbon price would take decades to show in a failure to reduce net emissions and lack of wood supply to local mills and the port.
“We’ve just got confidence to invest in planting and processing back again, after the national exotic forest area began shrinking 20 years ago. There’s an industry transformation plan to add value to our harvest.”
“But the signals we’re getting from the ETS review, and other recent government announcements, such as the plan to give powers to local government to artificially protect hill country farming from forest conversions, is the spectre that more exotic forests are something to be feared, rather than embraced.”