Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) says the ending of the streamlined forestry test for overseas investors planning to convert farms to forest is a positive first step in addressing the issue of wholesale farm conversion for carbon farming.
B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the Government’s announcement of changes to the Overseas Investment Act 2005 must be seen as the first of several necessary steps.
“The recent report by Lawrence Yule made it clear there are a range of policy mechanisms that could be used to address this issue. The special forestry test was just one mechanism identified and alone it won’t fix the problem.
“While we recognise a range of approaches will likely be necessary, B+LNZ’s primary position has long been that the Government needs to change the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) because that’s the legislation that’s causing the problem. The Government can’t keep tinkering around the edges and needs to take decisive and urgent action.
“We’ve been raising serious concerns for some time about the speed and scale of land-use change caused by the unbridled ability of fossil fuel emitters to plant exotic trees on sheep and beef farmland for offsetting rather than reducing their emissions.
“New Zealand is the only country in the world with an ETS that allows unlimited forestry offsetting and both the Climate Change Commission and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment have recommended that limits are needed.
“B+LNZ is not anti-plantation forestry and we have always seen significant opportunities for the integration of exotic and native trees on-farm, but this should not come at the expense of rural communities.”
Mr McIvor says B+LNZ is currently focusing on next month’s workshop involving a range of key stakeholders including Forestry Minister Stuart Nash, councils, forestry interests, B+LNZ and Local Government New Zealand, where all policy options will be discussed.
Read the report by Lawrence Yule, Managing Forestry Land-Use Under the Influence of Carbon (PDF, 996 KB), which B+LNZ co-funded.