The Farm Forestry Association is challenging what the government calls New Zealand's 'sustainable forestry story'.
Associate Minister of Primary Industries Jo Goodhew has been at the World Foresty Congress in Durban, South Africa, to demonstrate New Zealand's sustainable management of natural and planted forests.
Farm Forestry Association president Dean Satchell said the government was being flippant, given that the national plantation estate has decreased by 100,000 hectares since 2002.
He said the deforestation was due to problems with the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
"It was originally supposed to encourage forestry - and, in fact, it appeared we're going backwards in terms of the area in forest in New Zealand," he said.
"There's been a lot of conversions to dairy and people aren't necessarily replanting either. They expect the profits to be better in agriculture, so convert to pastoral farming because they're being sheltered by the ETS and the real costs of their emissions."
Mr Satchell said he wanted to work with the government to create an emissions trading scheme that encouraged planting forests on erosion-prone land.
"There's a lot of erodible country down in the southwest of the North Island and the east coast of the North Island.
"Forest is the most sustainable land use in those areas and it needs to be encouraged.
"We could be increasing our forest area dramatically in New Zealand and it would benefit the country in terms of environmental sustainability, and also have very high and good economic impacts," he said.