Clark 'personally responsible' for shocking deforestation data

Tuesday 10 June 2008, 8:43PM
By Kyoto Forestry Association

Prime Minister Helen Clark is personally responsible for shocking new deforestation data revealing that New Zealand has experienced the worst deforestation in its modern history, the Kyoto Forestry Association (KFA) said today.

The data, released by MAF today, shows that New Zealand’s forestry cover fell by a massive and unprecedented 13,600 hectares in 2007. This follows large falls in total forest cover in each of the previous three years, after constant growth in forest cover in every year prior to 2004 for which records exist.

“Helen Clark and Jim Anderton’s record on forestry is the worst of any Prime Minister or any Forestry Minister in New Zealand’s history,” KFA spokesman Roger Dickie said today.

“It is the shameful legacy of a failure to listen to the forestry industry and instead target us with punitive policies despite us being the environmental good guys and the only sector capable of sequestering carbon.

“The sad thing is that, had the Labour Government been prepared to listen to us, a properly planned forestry policy could have paid all of New Zealand’s Kyoto liabilities for 30 years or more. Instead, Labour has destroyed confidence in forestry and investors have simply allocated their money to other areas.”

Mr Dickie said that Helen Clark was “personally responsible” for the 2007 data.

“Since 2002, KFA has been warning the Government that its policy approach risked massive deforestation, and unfortunately we have been proved right every year.

“In December 2006, for example, KFA warned the Government that its policy threats, to confiscate the carbon credits earned by post-1989 forest owners and to impose massive retrospective taxes of $13,000 per hectare on pre-1990 forest owners, would lead to mass deforestation in 2007.

“Helen Clark rejected our claims, with the Dominion-Post reporting in its lead story on 19 December 2006 that she was calling them ‘hysterical’. She was wrong.

“Helen Clark also denied there was any proposal for a retrospective tax of $13,000 per hectare. In a sense, on this at least she was right: the proposed retrospective taxes are now as high as $65,000 per hectare.”

Mr Dickie said forestry policy was needed which gave post-1989 forest owners the carbon credits and associated liabilities they had earned, and which did not impose liabilities on people for trees planted prior to 1990 and as long as many decades ago.

“We need to restore confidence in our industry and we need the incoming Government to commit to policies that will do that,” he said.