Options signalled to manage deforestation

Hon Jim Anderton
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry
Hon David Parker
Minister responsible for Climate Change Issues

23 February 2007

Forestry Minister Jim Anderton and Climate Change Minister David Parker today released a discussion document on design options for a tradeable permit regime to manage deforestation.

The document supplements the consultation document Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change, and provides further detail on the approach the Ministers have indicated they prefer over a flat charge for deforested land.

"The release of this additional document signals that the Government is giving serious consideration to a tradeable permit scheme. David Parker and I are attracted to a tradable permit regime because it would put in place a framework for managing deforestation while retaining flexibility of land use, which will provide an important competitive advantage for New Zealand,” said Jim Anderton.

“Deforestation is a major issue, both internationally and for New Zealand. It accounts for around 20% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. As a country we have to work out a way of managing deforestation so that our overall levels of forest cover increase over time,” said David Parker.

“The expected level of deforestation in New Zealand between 2008 and 2012 will result in 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted. This is far higher than historic rates of deforestation and, if it came to pass, would create a liability for taxpayers of $651 million. The Government wants to create a framework where individuals who cause these emissions face at least some of the true costs of their actions.”

“Deforestation also causes many other environmental impacts such as increased flooding and nutrient run-off. At the moment society and the environment are paying the costs while those forest owners who are deforesting are collecting the profit. Private property rights have never given people the right to pollute the commons and the Government believes the environment and society should not have to shoulder all the burden,” Jim Anderton said.

“Three quarters of the deforestation over the Kyoto Protocol’s First Commitment Period is expected to be in the Central North Island. It will be carried out by a small number of corporate investors, while the overwhelming majority of forest owners still intend to replant their forests - more than 80% on latest information.

"In 2002 the Government announced a deforestation policy that limited the extent to which the taxpayer would cover deforestation costs. The corporate investors who are doing the bulk of the deforestation bought their forests after the Government announced how it intended to manage deforestation. So, the fact that the Government needs to address deforestation shouldn’t come as a surprise to these investors and it should have been considered by them when they decided to buy their forest,” Jim Anderton said.

“It's unfortunate that some are running an anti-government smear campaign based on misinformation but we are pleased the Government is continuing to receive considered feedback on its consultation round," said David Parker.

This consultation document is downloadable at: www.maf.govt.nz/climatechange

Hard copies of the document are available from:

Policy Publications
MAF Policy
PO Box 2526
Wellington
New Zealand

Contact: Liz Grant (Press Secretary for Hon Jim Anderton)
(04) 471 9172 or 021 227 9172
Email - Liz.Grant@parliament.govt.nz

Jane O’Loughlin (Press Secretary for Hon David Parker)
(04) 471 9855 or 021 227 9855
Email – Jane.O'Loughlin@parliament.govt.nz

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