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Positive forest industry response

Wednesday, 19 May 2004

Positive forest industry response to climate change package

The forest industry's positive response to the package of new forestry sector initiatives announced today is an encouraging start, says the Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change, Pete Hodgson.

The New Zealand Forest Industries Council, New Zealand Forest Owners' Association and New Zealand Farm Forestry Association have welcomed the government's proposed Forest Industry Framework Agreement.

The 5-year package includes a $12 million regional and industry market development programme; a $2.8 million bio energy programme; a $5 million investment in industry labour and skills; $1.4 million to assist international market access and, in a related boost to the industry, regional development transport funding of $23 million per year.

"The major forest industry groups have responded in a balanced, constructive way to the package," Mr Hodgson said. "The government has designed the package to recognise forestry's value in addressing climate change and I appreciate the industry's acknowledgement of that.

"The exception, unfortunately, is the leader of the recently-formed Kyoto Forest Owners Association, who persists in misrepresenting government policy and pursuing a distorted vision of his members' interests. The KFOA's statement today damages only its own credibility by claiming that the government has 'stolen' commercial forest sink credits, which are allocated under the Kyoto Protocol to New Zealand. Likewise the KFOA's spokesman persistently ignores the deforestation and harvesting liabilities that accompany sink credits when estimating their value to commercial forest owners.

"Retaining commercial forest sink credits enables the government to manage them in the best interests of New Zealand as a whole. Critically, it enables the government to shelter the farming sector from the full cost of its greenhouse gas emissions. We have balanced this by offering the forest industry a substantial partnership agreement and I look forward to the considered response of the principal industry organisations over the next few weeks."

ENDS

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