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Voting opens in forest referendum

FOREST GROWERS LEVY TRUST MEDIA RELEASE
28 February 2013


Voting opens in forest referendum

Polls in the Forest Voice referendum will be open from 1-29 March, a week longer than originally intended.

The organisers, the Forest Growers Levy Trust, say this will make voting more convenient for the many forest growers who live in districts where on-line voting is not possible, because of difficulties with internet access.

Trust chair Geoff Thompson says that if the referendum is successful, a small levy on harvested logs will be used to fund work that benefits all forest owners.

“Forestry is one of the few primary industries not to have a levy to fund research, bio-security surveillance, communications, advocacy and product promotion. For an industry with more than 10,000 growers – the country’s third largest export earner – this is long overdue.

“Growers who vote ‘yes’ will be voting to create a more profitable, better coordinated and fairer industry. I strongly urge every eligible grower to have their say and register to vote.”

The referendum gives each owner of a qualified forest one vote that will be counted two ways, per head and by area of forest. A dual majority is needed for the referendum to succeed.

In order to vote you need to own or represent the owner of a 'Qualifying Forest'. This is a plantation which has a stand or stands of trees 10 or more years in age (planted before 1 March 2003), totalling at least four hectares in area.

This definition applies to all species grown for eventual harvest including wildings and regeneration of a planted stand of trees. Christmas trees and trees grown for domestic firewood are not included.

“The 10-year cut-off ensures the right to vote is limited to those who are likely to pay the levy during its six-year life,” says Mr Thompson.

Voter registration and voting is now open [subs: From 1 March]. Potential voters need to go to the Forest Voice website or phone the organisers to check their eligibility and register as a voter.

Voting will now run until 29 March. Votes may be cast on the Forest Voice website or in the traditional way, on a ballot paper which may be posted or faxed.

For details, visit www.forestvoice.org.nz

[ends]

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