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Climate Change and the Forestry Conference

March 22, 2006

Climate Change Conference good lead-in to Forestry Conference

A boost to the role that forests play as saviours of the environment and climate will come from two high-powered conferences taking place in Wellington shortly.

Organisers of this year’s New Zealand Institute of Forestry Conference “Absolutely Positively Forests” believe next week’s Climate Change and Governance Conference at Victoria University is a good precursor for their event.

International experts are due to descend on Wellington for the university’s conference, which will discuss the nature and likely impact of climate change, how it will affect us and what governments, businesses and individuals can do to protect the planet.

It is a discussion of such significance that British Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to take part via an audio-visual link.

According to NZIF Conference Committee chairman, Dr Andrew McEwen, this focus on climate change is timely and leads on well to their industry conference three weeks later focusing on the non-wood benefits of forests.

“While the Victoria conference will concentrate on the broader aspects of how, when, what and why relating to climate change, the NZIF conference will discuss forest values relating to climate change policy in particular as well as managing the impact of climate change,” Dr McEwen says.

“This is incredibly important because it is through good forest governance that New Zealand can contribute most to reducing the damage being done to the world’s environment and economy. Overall, not enough importance is being placed on the value of forests in combating climate change.”

Dr McEwen says the Minister of Forestry, Jim Anderton, backs up this assertion. Late last year Mr Anderton stated that forests not only play a vital role in helping New Zealand mitigate and adapt to climate change, but they also deliver a range of environmental services such as protection from adverse weather events and reduced nitrification of waterways. However, the Minister also pointed out that the government’s current policy package does not send strong signals to encourage landowners to keep their land in forests and to establish new forests.

Dr McEwen says the NZIF Conference plans to foster a greater understanding of the science of climate change and the management of forests to maximise the full benefits available to us, including enhancing water quality, reducing soil erosion and flood damage, adding to biodiversity, enhancing landscapes, providing recreational activities and providing the raw material for energy for biomaterials and bioenergy.

Speakers at the conference, to be held in Wellington at Te Papa Museum, will include representatives from a broad range of interest groups – government officials, forest owners and managers, farm foresters, scientists, policy makers, non-government organisations and conservationists.

“They all agree on an urgent need for the development of improved Government climate and land use change policies,” Dr McEwen says.

For the people who recognise the vital role of forests in our landscapes and their non-production values, this conference is timely, he says.

Dr McEwen says the conference can also help contribute to a wider global forestry forum desperately in need of direction as it continues to grapple with the valuation of non-production attributes.

“Our conference will be a critical step along the way to addressing this issue.”

NZIF is the organisation for professionals in New Zealand forestry. Its main objective is to be an independent advocate for forestry, and to provide services and support to members, the profession, and the general public. Its almost 800 members are concerned with the professional management of all forests, plantation and indigenous, protection and commercial.

The members work for forestry companies, consulting businesses, research institutes, educational facilities, government departments and providers of specialist services.

The NZIF also controls the registration and conduct of forestry consultants who provide forestry advice to the public. There are approximately 90 registered NZIF members.

ENDS

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