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Minister's Blind Faith In Forest Sinks Futile

14 February 2002

New Zealand's forest sink credits are not a panacea to the challenges that the Kyoto Protocol will present to New Zealand, says Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) President Alistair Polson.

Mr Polson was commenting on statements made by Minister of Forestry Pete Hodgson regarding the economic benefit to New Zealand from forest sinks under the Kyoto Protocol. Mr Hodgson said that forest sinks meant New Zealand had a net benefit of $1 billion from ratification of the Kyoto Protocol during the first commitment period (2008-2012).

"The reported $1 billion value attributed to the 110 million forest sink credits this country will earn during 2008-2012 will only be a net benefit to the country if the Government retains full responsibility for New Zealand's emissions and forest sinks," said Mr Polson. "This is highly unlikely given the Government's intent to have all sectors address their emissions."

"If the Government were to devolve responsibility for New Zealand's forest sinks to the private sector then the $1 billion economic benefit from forest sinks will likely be overwhelmed by the compliance costs the Government needed for accounting purposes. Compliance costs will prove an especially high cost for small woodlot owners and farm foresters, many of whom will also likely be made responsible for their livestock emissions.

"The emission liabilities from harvesting pre-1990 forests will diminish any benefits and will impact on large corporate forest owners significantly. Their heavy investments are in pre-1990 forests that comprise the much-talked about wall of wood.

"The so-called economic benefit from forest sinks will be further diluted should Government decide to retain a proportion of New Zealand's forest sinks credits for itself.

"The Minister cannot separate ratification from the damaging effects to the New Zealand economy. Ratification must be delayed and realistic policies adopted."


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