Totara give away to highlight confiscation disaster

Tuesday 12 June 2007, 8:06AM
By Mediacom


The Kyoto Forestry Association (KFA) is to give away totara seedlings to MPs, officials and Wellington office workers on the morning of Tuesday 12 June to again highlight the deforestation crisis caused by the Government’s 2002 confiscation of carbon credits earned by those New Zealanders who have planted trees since 1990.

The totara will be given away by volunteers at several locations around Wellington from 7.00 am, including the corner of Bowen Street and Lambton Quay, and outside MAF.

KFA spokesman Roger Dickie said the latest MAF data showed New Zealand lost 13,000 hectares of forestry in the last year – the second year in a row that New Zealand’s total forest cover had fallen significantly, but only the second year since the 1950s that this had happened.

He said the deforestation crisis was the result of a lack of new planting or replanting after a collapse in confidence in the industry following the 2002 confiscation.

“Through the 1990s and early part of this decade, forestry investors were promised by MAF officials and ministers that we would own the carbon credits earned by the trees we were planting – including by Forestry Minister Jim Anderton’s own policy advisor in his office1,” Mr Dickie said. “Foreign Minister Phil Goff also boasted of this policy to foreign governments, according to Cabinet papers released under the Official Information Act2 – and rightly so because it was a policy that had encouraged up to $400 million of new investment in plantation forests per year, with up to 100,000 hectares a year being planted.”

Mr Dickie said there was a direct and undeniable relationship between the collapse in new planting and the 2002 confiscation.

“Forestry investors need confidence over 30 years that Government promises will be kept and that property rights will be respected,” he said. “The 2002 confiscation destroyed that confidence.”

Mr Dickie said the good news was that the Government was now reconsidering the 2002 confiscation as part of its current climate change policy review, while non-Government political parties supported by two-thirds of New Zealanders have publicly stated that forestry investors must be given at least some of the $1.25 billion of post-1990 credits to get new planting underway again.3

The Government’s preparedness to reconsider the issue has been also driven by advice from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which it advised it in April this year to consider allocating carbon credits and liabilities to forest owners.4

“The Government’s preparedness to reconsider the confiscation and the strong support we have received from other political parties would not have happened without overwhelming support from the public, especially in the capital city,” Mr Dickie said. “As well as again highlighting the devastating effects of the 2002 confiscation and the need for a policy rethink, we are distributing these totara seedlings as a way of thanking the Wellington community for its support – and of course because they will sequester carbon for many, many decades ahead.”

Mr Dickie said KFA would continue its campaign of public pressure for a reversal of the 2002 confiscation through the remainder of 2007 and through 2008.