19 Aug 2013

Forest owners trying to fool public, says Govt

6:39 am on 19 August 2013

The Government says forest owners are trying to fool the public into thinking they are being hard done by.

The Forest Owners Association believes the price of carbon in the Emissions Trading Scheme is too low and the scheme has been deliberately weakened by the Government.

It says that has the effect of removing the incentive for land owners to plant trees to store carbon, as well as removing the incentive for companies and people to invest in clean technology.

But Climate Change Minister Tim Groser says the association's criticisms of the way the Government runs the ETS are way off the mark.

"What they want is for you and me to pay them more than the international market price. It's as simple as that, it's self-interested comment and I take it as such.

"They're also trying to confuse New Zealanders by thinking that there is net deforestation taking place in New Zealand. Well, no there's not. In the four years from 2008 to 2012 New Zealand plantation foresters cut down 26,000 hectares of plantation forest. Sounds a lot? Well, not in relation to 1.7 million hectares.

Mr Groser says the foresters replanted 42,700 hectares with new plantation forests.

"That's what a plantation forest is about. You plant, you let it grow, you cut it down, you plant again," he says.

Mr Groser says people primarily plant trees for wood and people speaking for the industry should exercise a higher duty of care and not misinform the public.

However, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has said the Government has made a farce out of New Zealand's climate change commitments.