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June, 2022

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Federated Farmers struggling with both the law and arithmetic

The Forest Owners Association says Federated Farmers have got their sums wrong on the rate of forest planting and don’t understand the law on overseas investment either.

FOA is responding to claims made by Federated Farmers to Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee that the rate of conversion of farmland to exotic forestry ‘will far exceed what the Climate Change Commission projected as a sustainable amount (25,000ha/yr)’ and that will reduce employment in rural communities.

Forest Owners Association President, Grant Dodson, says Federated Farmers own figures, which are between 2017 and mid 2021, produce an average new planting of 22,244ha/yr.

“My arithmetic tells me that just over 22-thousand hectares is actually less than 25-thousand hectares,” Grant Dodson says, “It does not ‘far exceed’ it.”

“Moreover, it now appears that the government has abandoned its unrealistic goal of planting native trees at a similar rate.”

“This will require a higher yearly planting rate for exotics close to 30-thousand hectares to still hit the zero-carbon target by 2050.”

Grant Dodson also points to the official statistics of the total planted forest area in New Zealand.  In 2003 it was 1.827m/ha.  The latest figure, 2021, is 1.74m/ha.

“Using my maths again, I work out that the forest estate is 87-thousand hectares less now than it was in 2003.  The area of plantation forest has actually shrunk.”

FOA is also drawing attention to the clear law that prevents overseas investors buying farmland for conversion to carbon-only forestry.

“Federated Farmers are complaining to a select committee about carbon-only forests which has nothing to do with the legislation under consideration.”

“Overseas investors have to cover the cost of planting and managing their forests in strict accordance with the National Environmental Standards – Plantation Forestry, which governs a harvest rotation regime.”

“There is simply no permission regime for overseas owned permanent carbon- only forests.

“The Feds are inventing scenarios of an incredibly high price of carbon way into the future leading to those forests never being harvested.”

“If that ever gets to happen it could only be the result of catastrophic failure of government policy to get greenhouse gas emissions down and consequent overreliance on forests to sequester carbon.”

“In the meantime, farmers converting to production forests are making an investment in the future, both for wood production and for carbon sequestration.”

“Forests are productive too.  PricewaterhouseCoopers estimate forests outperform sheep and beef land on average and provide more employment.”

“Federated Farmers are complaining that forestry is making it more difficult to attract shearing gangs on to farms.”

“It is a strange claim.  I suspect the decline in the national wool clip has much more to do with the low price of wool and farmers making their choice to farm alternative stock.”

“It would be good if farmers were also left alone to choose whether to plant trees on their land as well.’

“Diversified farms, incorporating livestock and areas of trees for commercial harvest and carbon will be a win for the farmers and the environment we all care for.”

“Let’s focus on getting a win -win scenario for both land uses which should be complimentary and put aside bogus claims and incorrect statistics.”

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