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Forest Owners Puzzled At Overseas Investment Reform

The Forest Owners Association is asking why the government needs to reintroduce more process around overseas investment for conversions from pasture to plantation forests.

The Associate Minister of Finance, David Parker, says the government is changing the application process for conversions.

FOA President, Phil Taylor, says he hopes that this will not lead to a protracted and cumbersome process that kills off interest in New Zealand by overseas investors.

“Minister Parker acknowledges the need for overseas investment in our primary sector, given that there is a limited amount of capital within New Zealand. The government in its previous term realised that the application process was bureaucratic and pointlessly expensive and so brought in the special forestry test. Now it’s changing it back again for new planting.”

Since the special forestry test was introduced in late 2018 the OIO has approved a total of 23,402 hectares of pasture for forest conversion, which is an average of 600 hectares a month.

“That is a very modest rate in the context of a total hill country estate of 8.5 million hectares,” Phil Taylor says.

“My main concern though is that the government is sending mixed signals about the need for an expansion of plantation forests.”

“Minister Parker says it’s important that we have a ‘strong forestry sector’. We agree of course. That must mean an expansion. The Climate Change Commission says we need to grow the area by another 380,000 hectares for New Zealand to meet greenhouse gas emission goals.”

“The government has also set lofty goals for increased export income from forestry. An emerging bio-economy and the widespread adoption of modern engineered timber will also drive extra consumption, here and overseas.”

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