FOREST GROWERS LEVY TRUST MEDIA RELEASE 28 February 2013.
VOTING OPENS IN FOREST REFERENDUM
Polls in the Forest Voice referendum will be open from 1-29 March, a week longer than originally intended.
The organisers, the Forest Growers Levy Trust, say this will make voting more convenient for the many forest growers who live in districts where on-line voting is not possible, because of difficulties with internet access.
Trust chair Geoff Thompson says that if the referendum is successful, a small levy on harvested logs will be used to fund work that benefits all forest owners.
"Forestry is one of the few primary industries not to have a levy to fund research, bio-security surveillance, communications, advocacy and product promotion. For an industry with more than 10,000 growers - the country's third largest export earner - this is long overdue.
"Growers who vote 'yes' will be voting to create a more profitable, better coordinated and fairer industry. I strongly urge every eligible grower to have their say and register to vote."
The referendum gives each owner of a qualified forest one vote that will be counted two ways, per head and by area of forest. A dual majority is needed for the referendum to succeed.
In order to vote you need to own or represent the owner of a 'Qualifying Forest'. This is a plantation which has a stand or stands of trees 10 or more years in age (planted before 1 March 2003), totalling at least four hectares in area.
This definition applies to all species grown for eventual harvest including wildings and regeneration of a planted stand of trees. Christmas trees and trees grown for domestic firewood are not included.
"The 10-year cut-off ensures the right to vote is limited to those who are likely to pay the levy during its six-year life," says Mr Thompson.
Voter registration and voting is now open. Potential voters need to go to the Forest Voice website or phone the organisers to check their eligibility and register as a voter.
Voting will now run until 29 March. Votes may be cast on the Forest Voice website or in the traditional way, on a ballot paper which may be posted or faxed.
For details, visit www.forestvoice.org.nz or phone 0800 500 168.
Forest Voice communications
021 381 465
For more information, contact Geoff Thompson, Tel 04 499 3280