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Billboard Campaign Against Govt Forestry Policies

KFA Launches Billboard Campaign Against Government Forestry Policies



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MEDIA STATEMENT

Friday 3 August 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

KFA LAUNCHES BILLBOARD CAMPAIGN AGAINST GOVERNMENT FORESTRY POLICIES

The Kyoto Forestry Association (KFA) today launched a billboard campaign to highlight the devastating economic and environmental effects of the Government’s forestry policy of confiscating carbon credits from post-1990 forest owners.

The billboards, near Wellington and Auckland International Airports, show graphically that “Labour’s Forestry Policy” is leading to deforestation and carry the message “Give New Zealand Forest Owners Back Our Carbon Credits and We’ll Get Planting Again”.

They have been funded out of a voluntary $6/hectare levy on post-1990 forest owners.

KFA Spokesman Roger Dickie said it was planned for the billboards to be used regularly between now and the 2008 General Election, depending on whether or not the Government’s proposed Electoral Finance Bill is passed in its current form.

“This is a very important matter of public policy,” Mr Dickie said. “Since the 2002 confiscation of $1.25 billion of our carbon credits, new forest planting in New Zealand has plunged to below replacement levels, and we are now experiencing deforestation for the first time in New Zealand’s history. Planting will not begin again until the confiscation is reversed. All New Zealanders need to understand this if, as a nation, we are to successfully tackle climate change and reduce our massive Kyoto deficit.”

Mr Dickie said the billboards were being placed near Auckland and Wellington airports so that they would be seen by as many politicians, bureaucrats and senior journalists as possible.

Mr Dickie said that while Wellington International Airport Ltd had no problem with the design of the billboard, Auckland International Airport Ltd had declined to carry politically-orientated advertisements on the grounds it is partly-publicly and partly-privately owned. Options near to the airport are being considered by KFA, as are Christchurch options.

Mr Dickie said that while KFA was not aligned to any political party, it had received strong support from the Maori, ACT, National and Green parties and those concerned about the devastating effects of deforestation should consider supporting one of these parties.


BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Introduction to Carbon Credits

Kyoto carbon credits are earned by those individuals and businesses that sequestered carbon by planting new forestry since the Kyoto Protocol’s baseline of 1 January 1990, and by those industries which have cut their carbon emissions since then.

Through the 1990s and early part of this decade, Government officials [See, for example, MAF Rural Bulletin June 2000: http://www.kfoa.co.nz/maf.htm written by Kevin Steel, now Forestry Policy Advisor in Forestry Minister Jim Anderton’s office. ] made clear that forestry investors would gain financially from the credits, which are a clear property right, as confirmed by the Treasury. New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff also told foreign governments that New Zealand forest owners would own the credits. [See, for example, Cabinet PaperPOL (00) 26: http://www.kfoa.co.nz/PDF/CAB%20100%202000.pdf

This fuelled a planting boom through the 1990s with 30,000 ordinary New Zealanders and forestry companies putting up as much as $400 million per annum of their own risk capital to invest in more than 600,000 hectares of new forest – both because of the benefits predicted to arise both from the sale of wood products and from carbon credits earned from carbon sequestration.

Since the Government first indicated that it intended to confiscate the credits in 2002, tree planting in New Zealand has plunged and New Zealand is now experiencing net deforestation for the first time in living memory.

The Government has previously indicated it would limit its confiscation of the credits to those associated with the First Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol, costing forest owners nationwide as much as $2.5 billion, or $1.25 billion according to the Government’s calculations, depending on the market value of carbon credits. Now, however, Government officials are indicating it may extend the confiscation to the Second Commitment Period, putting eventual losses nationwide up to at least $8 billion.

The Government is also proposing a retrospective tax of up to $13,000 per hectare on the owners of forests planted before 1 January 1990, if those forest owners decide to convert their land to another land use.

MAF has carried out a consultation process on these and other ideas to address climate change. The deadline for submissions was 30 March and 3,500 were received. Other forest owners asked for an extension to this deadline but Forestry Minister Jim Anderton refused.

The confiscation of the credits, the proposed retrospective tax and Mr Anderton’s handling of the forestry portfolio have received near-unanimous condemnation at the MAF consultation meetings, with forest owners even in his home town of Christchurch calling on him to resign.

More positively, the National, Green, Maori and ACT parties have broadly supported the forestry industry on the question of carbon credits.

ENDS

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