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Jones speaks in favour of gene editing

Jones speaks in favour of gene editing as forestry progress detailed

First published in Energy and Environment on June 27, 2019.

Forestry Minister Shane Jones has spoken in favour of gene editing technologies to help reduce agricultural emissions and said more tree planting is needed to buy time for emissions reductions elsewhere.

Jones said he had agreed to meet with farming groups who have expressed concerns about the forestry displacing farming

“I look forward to them coming and working constructively on the projects currently covered in the Budget… Forestry has an incredibly important role to play not only in biodiversity, not only in catchment consolidation, not only in employment and exports but in providing an option to buy time while the heavy emitters—the heavy industry—seek ways to invest in science, technology, and improvements to their business in the context of our new climate change challenges.”

He said if “ we don't have focused research and technology investment in areas such as gene editing, it's very difficult to see where the farming community, where the agribusiness community is going to find the solution. So I look forward to working with them. There's considerable scope in that regard.”

Information released as part of the Budget show forestry progress and also delays in policy roll out.

• As part of the One Billion Trees programme Cabinet agreed for Crown Forestry to enter into 24,000ha of new commercial forestry joint ventures by 30 June 2019. Due to it taking longer than expected to conclude joint venture contracts with private landowners, Cabinet agreed in April 2019 to extend the timeframe for Crown Forestry to use existing funding to sign up new joint ventures to 30 June 2020.

• As at 6 June, 22 joint venture contracts consisting of 13,720 ha have been agreed. Contracts representing a further 6,500 ha are under negotiation, with a further 3,400 ha under active evaluation. Expressions of interest of around 9,000 ha are in the pipeline and will only be progressed if properties further through the pipeline withdraw. It is anticipated that between 16,000 and 18,000 ha of the total programme will be contracted by the June 30 2019.

• The Afforestation Grant Scheme has a target of 15,000 hectares of new forest planted over the five years of the Scheme. Evaluating this outcome is best undertaken at the end of the Scheme, currently planned for 2019/2020, where data from inspections that have been undertaken by MPI can be used.

• As at 17 June, 2019 $11.228m had been paid out through tree planting grant schemes.

• In March 2019 Te Uru Rākau officials provided advice to Ministers on progress and outcomes to date of Crown Forestry joint ventures to plant trees as part of the One Billion Trees programme. In April 2019 Cabinet agreed to extend the timeframe for Crown Forestry to use existing funds to sign up new joint ventures to 30 June 2020.

• In April 2019 Te Uru Rākau updated the Minister of Forestry on One Billion Trees grant applications that had been received to date and provided advice on managing the risk of funding being used to support whole-farm conversions, where these were not an appropriate land use.

First published in Energy and Environment on June 27, 2019.

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