John Dermer , New Zealand Tree Grower August 2010.
A window of opportunity
It has been a very interesting, dare I say exciting, time since taking over from Patrick Milne in April. There is now a much greater interest and awareness from the general public in everything to do with trees and their role in carbon trading, and this has generated considerable media coverage. Coping with this has been a first for me. Mostly this interest has been brought about by the Emissions Trading Scheme, but the increase in log prices and better returns from forestry have played a part as well.
The ETS is now with us and there is no doubt it has caused renewed interest in forestry and all its wider land use benefits, but mostly because for the first time, foresters, and farmers who had the foresight to plant areas of their farms can make an annual return from the carb on stored in their forests. To read the farming papers you would not think so as they are full of rhetoric on the general theme 'that this scheme makes New Zealand business, and this includes farming, uncompetitive.' For the forest grower, it is a window of opportunity, but one which must be opened carefully as there are some nasty fishhooks in the scheme. This has been my message in press releases and on Radio New Zealand on several occasions.
Of the people registering for the ETS, 78 per cent have less than 100 hectares so it is certainly catching on with small growers. The bonus from this is that our membership is showing signs of improvement. It is early days yet but the signs are positive. Branches should make a huge fuss of any new members as they have been very hard to get and we should hate to loose them.
Afforestation Grant Scheme
The government has chosen to effectively gut this scheme as part of its cost-cutting exercise in the belief that the ETS will continue the momentum to get trees in the ground. At least the Minister has publicly stated that more planting is desirable. There is still $5 million unallocated for the 2012/2013 year, but it will be distributed at a much lower rate than in the past. Government plans to review this scheme, along with the East Coast Forestry Project and the Permanent Forest Sinks Initiative, during the next twelve months, so we will get the chance to submit on all of these schemes.
Allocation plan for pre 1990 forests
The changes to the Act have been signed off so may come into force by the end of July, but registration should start by 1 August. The government have left themselves the option of cancelling the second tranche of credits - 62 per cent of them - after 2012 if offsetting is permitted by the Kyoto Protocol for the second commitment period. Offsetting is the ability to plant an area other than the one harvested, which gives the government an escape clause because the Allocation Plan is designed as compensation for locking in forestry as the only land use for that block.
Once again our members have scored well in the annual Ballance Farm Environment awards, but of special mention is the effort of John Mackintosh from Bay of Plenty, in winning a scholarship to study farm forestry. We await his findings with much interest.
Nominations for our awards are still well behind expectations and our two judges, Ian Jackson for the South Island and Angus Gordon for the North Island, are looking forward to some interesting farm visits. Please give some thought now to nominating anyone in your branch you think is worthy.
This is still being developed but has already made a useful contribution as many of our new members have joined from using the web site.
Thank you to all the people who have taken time out to email me on all sorts topics. Please continue to do so.