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Government cannot see the wood for the trees

Wednesday 20 December 2006

Government cannot see the wood for the trees

United Future climate change and forestry spokesman Gordon Copeland has reiterated the concerns of the New Zealand Forest Owners Association over the Government's land use climate change policies through the announcement of United Future's own policies today.

"Forest owners are understandably upset by the Government's intention to impose a flat tax on land that is changed from forestry to agriculture," said Mr Copeland.

"United Future's climate change policies that were announced this morning include a provision that requires the internalisation of all greenhouse gas costs when forested areas are converted to intensive agriculture.

"Where forested land is converted to farming the landowner would bear the Kyoto costs arising from the loss of the carbon sequestration, but would not face a land tax.

"The result would be that anybody who wishes to convert their land from forestry to agriculture can do so as long as they are willing either to reimburse the taxpayer the resultant Kyoto costs or purchase carbon credits by establishing a new forest on alternative land.

"Small farm based wood lots would be exempt from these arrangements.

"I agree with David Rhodes of NZFOA, that the answer to reducing deforestation is not to tax landowners into submission, but to make it more attractive for them to remain in forestry.

"If the Governments ambition is for carbon-neutrality then the forestry sector needs to be encouraged, and not hindered by draconian policymaking," concluded Mr Copeland.


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