3 Mar 2022

Govt taking public feedback on managing new forest planting

8:45 am on 3 March 2022

Permanent exotic forest plantings, like radiata pine, may no longer be eligible for carbon credits under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Young radiata pine trees grow on a hillside near Tiraumea, north of Masterton

Young radiata pine trees grow on a hillside near Tiraumea, north of Masterton Photo: RNZ / Kate Newton

The government is inviting public feedback on ideas to better manage new forest planting (afforestation) from 14 March.

Minister of Forestry Stuart Nash said under current rules, a new permanent forest category of the ETS would allow both exotic and native forests to be registered and earn New Zealand carbon credits.

"We are now proposing to exclude exotic species from the permanent forest category," he said.

Nash believed the country had an opportunity to put in safeguards that were needed to balance the risks created by permanent exotic forests.

"These [risks] include pests, fire, damaged habitats for native species, biodiversity threats, and a relatively short lifespan compared to well-managed mixed native forests.

"We want to encourage the right tree, in the right place, for the right reason. We intend to balance the need for new forest planting with wider needs of local communities, regional economies, and the environment."

Minister for Climate Change James Shaw said the Climate Change Commission had recommend more planting of both types of forest.

"In its advice to government, the Climate Change Commission said we need to increase both native and exotic tree planting to meet our emissions targets. But they also warned we need to reduce our overall reliance on forestry offsets, and better manage the impacts of afforestation," he said.

Public consultation was a critical step, Shaw said.

"This consultation is an opportunity for anyone with an interest in the future of forestry to have their say. We particularly want to hear from Māori and iwi landowners ... who have significant interests in permanent forestry."

Public submissions can be made from Monday 14 March until Friday 22 April here.

The rules will come into force on 1 January 2023.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs