Plant forests that are good for nature, the climate and the economy

  • A public consultation opens on how forests are managed under the National Environmental Standards for Forest Plantations (NES-PF), including:
    • Give local councils more control over where forests are planted
    • Managing the Effects of Exotic Carbon Forestry on Nature
    • Improve forest fire management in all forests.
    • Addressing the key findings of the first year review of the NES-PF
  • Confirmation that the ETS permanent forest category will open on January 1, 2023
  • Maori and other technical forestry experts to help lead work to ensure that the permanent forest category allows for permanent indigenous forestry, in line with the commitment made in the Emissions Reduction Plan.
  • We invite your feedback on government plans to improve the way New Zealand manages forestry to ensure it works for nature, the climate, local communities and our economy. .

    The consultation is a step towards delivering on the Labor Manifesto commitment to empower local councils to decide which land can be used for plantations and carbon forests through the resource consent process.

    Proposals including expanding control by local authorities over the planting of exotic forests in their districts, including whether or not to expand the scope of the regulations to include permanent exotic afforestation (alien carbon forests), with the opening of a public consultation on the National Environmental Statement for Plantation Forests (NES-PF).

    “This consultation supports the government’s goal of balancing the type and scale of reforestation in New Zealand – to get the right tree in the right place,” said Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

    “We are responding to concerns about the impacts on the environment and on rural communities of the potential conversion of productive agricultural land to exotic carbon forests.

    “The forest sector makes an important contribution to our economy, our communities and the environment, and it is essential that the sector develops in a productive and sustainable way. This step helps build a high value, high wage, low emissions future for New Zealand,” said Damien O’Connor.

    “We are seeing an increase in investment in forestry due to the significant increase in the price of carbon, the role of forestry in meeting our emission reduction targets and the demand for wood products,” said Forestry Minister Stuart Nash.

    “However, a large-scale change in land use for exotic carbon forestry, if left unchecked and without any monitoring or management requirements, has the potential to have unforeseen impacts on the environment, rural communities and regional economies.

    “The proposed changes include local government having more leeway to decide the location, scale, type and management of plantations and exotic carbon forests in their districts.

    “We are seeking feedback on options to give local councils more control over land that can be used for reforestation, including plantations and exotic carbon forests, through the resource consent process. Councils could decide based on social and economic factors specific to their regions and communities,” Stuart Nash said.

    “The uncontrolled planting of permanent forests compromises the sustainability of rural communities. This is why the government has expanded the Labor Manifesto commitment and wants to give local councils the opportunity to determine where and to what extent exotic carbon forests can be planted across all classes of land,” the minister said. Local Government Associate, Kieran McAnulty.

    “Local councils know their communities best, and I encourage everyone, rural and urban, to submit to allow their council to allow exotic carbon forestry in a way the community wants.”

    Climate Change Minister James Shaw added that it is crucial to ensure that national environmental standards for plantation forestry and the emissions trading system work together to meet government priorities in climate action and biodiversity.

    “Planting trees is not a substitute for reducing gross emissions. Even so, the NES-PF and the emissions trading system still need to work together to ensure the parameters are right for restoring and replanting native forests. It will take some time to get it right, but that’s what we’re working on.

    “Right now, the rules put in place by previous governments are not working. The rising price of carbon credits has created a strong financial incentive to establish new exotic forest plantations. At the same time, the NES for Plantation Forestry does not apply to permanent exotic forests.

    “Now that we have Aotearoa New Zealand’s first-ever plan in place to reduce climate pollution in all parts of the country – backed by a $4.5 billion investment – we need to make sure forestry is done in an environmentally sound manner. The forestry sector must contribute to reduced emissions, better environmental outcomes and a resilient rural economy,” said James Shaw.

    The ministers also confirmed that the government would maintain its long-term goal of allowing permanent forests to pass to natives over time. Further work will need to be done to determine the best way to achieve this. In order to allow time for this work to be carried out and after consultation, the category of permanent forest will remain unchanged for the time being and will come into force on January 1, 2023.

    “Exotic reforestation is a key part of New Zealand’s response to climate change. However, increasing carbon prices in the NZ ETS could lead to higher than expected levels of exotic carbon forestry,” said Stuart Nash.

    A group of Maori and other technical forestry experts will help redefine the parameters of the ETS Permanent Forest Category so that it better supports long-term indigenous carbon sinks.

    “For decades, successive governments have tried to deal with our biodiversity and climate crises separately. But the reality is that neither will be successfully resolved unless the two are tackled together. That’s why we need to make sure we’re truly reducing emissions, while enabling the restoration and replanting of our native forests, where our native wildlife can thrive – and that we’re doing it in a way that works for tangata whenua “, James tells Shaw.

    These changes are expected to come into force on January 1, 2025.

    Ministers encourage anyone involved in forestry or with an interest in the primary sector to provide feedback through the consultation process.

    Read more about the consultation and provide feedback at https://www.mpi.govt.nz/consultations/national-direction-for-plantation-and-exotic-carbon-afforestation

    Read more about next steps for the NZ ETS permanent forest category at https://www.mpi.govt.nz/consultations/managing-exotic-afforestation-incentives

    /Public release. This material from the original organization/authors may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author or authors. See in full here.

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