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Another Disastrous Planting Season Ahead in 2006

MEDIA STATEMENT

Wednesday 2 November 2005

For Immediate Release

Another Disastrous Planting Season Ahead in 2006

Indications are that 2006 will be another disastrous year for the plantation forestry industry and that will flow through to the harvesting and manufacturing industries in future years, the Kyoto Forestry Association (KFA) said today.

“Poor government policy has contributed to new plantings plummeting from an annual 65,000 hectares in the mid-1990s to zero today,” KFA spokesman Roger Dickie said. “Our contacts through the forestry industry indicate 2006 will be another zero year. The few nurseries left have reported to us that they have planted almost nothing because of a lack of orders. They do not want to repeat this year’s experience where some individual nurseries have dumped or pulped more than one million seedlings.”

Mr Dickie said the catastrophic seasons of recent years had immediate and long-term impacts on employment, exports and the environment.

“We estimate that around 8,000 jobs have already been lost in the nursery, planting and pruning industry compared with when we were planting 65,000 hectares annually,” he said. “Looking ahead 10 to 20 years, there will be no mature trees coming on line, slashing jobs in our harvesting and manufacturing industries, and fuelling New Zealand’s trade deficit. In the meantime, forestry will be failing to make a proper contribution to combating climate change and to reducing New Zealand’s massive Kyoto Protocol deficit.”

Mr Dickie said investors were loath to back new plantings given the previous government’s record of confiscating the Kyoto carbon credits which are rightfully owned by people who invest their money to plant new trees.

“The theft of that property – and the use of the credits to subsidise polluting industries – changed the economics associated with new plantings,” Mr Dickie said. “The previous Government was saying loud and clear to investors not to plant trees but to instead invest in companies and industries likely to be awarded Negotiated Greenhouse Agreements, (NGAs), exempting them from paying tax on the carbon they spew into the atmosphere. Arguably, the confiscation of our carbon credits also said that the previous government did not value forestry and was not prepared to offer us a stable policy framework from which we could get on with the job of planting, investing and creating jobs.”

Despite the latest negative news, Mr Dickie said the industry held out hope that Forestry Minister Jim Anderton and Climate Change Minister David Parker were prepared to recognise the cumulative contribution forestry made to employment, exports and the environment.

“They both seem to have open minds,” he said. “Hopefully we will see an upturn in 2007, and into 2008.”

ENDS

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