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Hodgson sets forest owners straight on Kyoto

13 June 2005 Media Statement

Hodgson sets forest owners straight on Kyoto policy

The President of the Forest Owners Association (FOA) is wrong to assert that forest owners face liabilities for cutting down trees and not re-planting says Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change Pete Hodgson.

"The only politician to talk up such a liability is National's Forestry Spokesmen, Brian Connell," says Pete Hodgson. "He has done the forestry sector a massive disservice by spreading such a rumour and it seems that he has now fooled the President of the Forest Owners Association."

Under Kyoto, credits are awarded to nations against forest sinks. Once sinks are cut, or removed because of flood, fire or storm damage, credits awarded against that forestry have to be paid back. The government has assumed all the liabilities and credits for post 1990 forests.

However, it is pre-1990 forests where the FOA's investments are concentrated. These forests generate no credits but the government has nonetheless agreed to accept a capped liability for any deforestation, with the cap set well above the historic deforestation trend. The Crown accepts liability, because to do otherwise would lead to a freezing of land use, even where some trees have been planted in the wrong place.

So that commercial and permanent forest sinks can both exist in New Zealand, the government has legislation before Parliament to enable credits to be passed to land owners creating new permanent forest sinks. Such an approach would leave permanent forest owners with both the credits and the liabilities that go with them.

"It's disheartening to see such a blatant misrepresentation of forestry and climate change policy. Concerned forest owners who want to be able to separate the facts from fiction should contact the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry."


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