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Nats' forest carbon initiative welcomed

Nats' forest carbon initiative welcomed

The Forest Owners Association has welcomed the forestry and climate change policies advanced by the National Party in its Bluegreen Vision for New Zealand.
"National has now developed some well-reasoned and imaginative policies which will be well received by forest owners," says NZFOA chief executive David Rhodes.

"Our members have been challenging National to be specific about the climate change policies it would adopt if it assumed the Treasury benches. This is an important step in the right direction.

"The Greens and now National have put reasonably comprehensive climate change policies on the table. We now await with great interest what the government is going to come up with."

He says forest owners particularly welcome National's promise to abolish the 10 per cent deforestation cap and the immediate introduction of a requirement for power stations burning fossil fuels to buy carbon credits.

"This would require a basic tradable emission permit system to be set up, providing an income stream for carbon storage to those forest owners who want to take part," Mr Rhodes says.

"It may take several years to design a comprehensive trading scheme, but National has recognised the importance of making the vital first step. By allowing the market to put a value on carbon, those industries like forestry which improve the country's emissions profile will be encouraged."

He says National's proposal to work with the World Trade Organisation to ensure that imported wood products meet sustainability standards similar to those met by New Zealand growers was very positive.

"We also welcome the proposal to support a public awareness campaign to encourage New Zealanders to buy wood products produced from forests which meet internationally-accepted certification standards. The industry itself already plans to fund a similar promotion, and would welcome cross-party support for this."

In a speech to the Climate Change Symposium in Wellington today Mr Rhodes said the forest industry's interest in climate change did not end with the harvesting of trees.

"The carbon stored in harvested wood is a significant environmental benefit arising from forestry, but it is not accounted for in the first Kyoto commitment period.

"The climate change policies adopted by the government and our major political parties need to look beyond 2012. They need to be based on what is rational and workable for New Zealand in the long-term."

Commenting afterwards, Mr Rhodes said it was important that all the major political parties were willing to debate climate change policies constructively.

"Ultimately we expect to see a partnership between the forest industry and government in which the value of carbon credits is shared," he says.

"But for this to be effective in an industry in which trees planted today will be harvested by another generation, the partnership needs to be based on efficient and enduring market-based mechanisms which have broad cross-party support."


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