John Dermer, New Zealand Tree Grower February 2012.
Challenges for 2012
I hope you have all had a good break and are ready to take on the challenges 2012 will certainly throw at us.
Internationally there has been another climate change meeting. This time in Durban where an agreement was reached but after a more difficult battle than the one reached in Cancun. Are global attempts to combat climate change going to be overtaken by the simple expediency of governments trying to balance their books? Given the debt situation in so many countries, I expect so.
Where will this leave our ETS is anyone's guess, but if the current price of carbon, hovering around $7 is an indicator, it will not be in good shape. The object of the ETS is to alter behaviour by encouraging different ways of doing business and I believe this price fails to provide that incentive.
Pre 1990 forest credits
The government have let it be known, in the inimical way they do just before Christmas, that they are developing cabinet papers which will consider the option of removing the second tranche of carbon credits from the owners of pre-1990 forests. There is no talk of also removing the liabilities these forest owners will incur if they deforest. But they plan to allow offsetting - the planting of a forest with the same carbon sequestration ability on another site.
While it is great news that the new government inted to balance the bookes, the precedent of providing compensation for taking away a person's property right is well entrenched in New Zealand's history. The National Executive is joining other foresters in a combined effort to ensure they stick to honouring the minimal compensation levels that currently exist. This is an effort hampered at the moment by the fact that government have not actually publically clarified what their intention is.
Forest industry levy
The Forest Owners Association has initiated moves to put a compulsory levy on all harvested wood to be in place by July this year. For many years it has been glaringly obvious that the forest oindustry needs a secure an equitable source of funds. This has become increasingly apparent with the formation of WoodCo and its promotion arm NZ Wood.
The levy is planned to be used by the Forest Owners Association to help fund the rand of industry good activities it currently funds on its own. Please look at the nzfoa.org.nz for details. The amoundt should be in the range of 15 to 20 cents per cubic metre, and will be levied at harvest, when funds are available. Ath this stage, just how the levy will be collcted is being debated but I would put my money on the timber processor and the wharf being the collection points.
Contacting small growers will be critical to getting this levy proposal in place, so the NZFFA has a role to play in this. Federated Farmershave also been brought into the dicussion in the hope that they can persuade some of the thousands of farmers with trees on their farms, that they need to part with a small portion of their harvest income for the greater good of the whole industry.
These are big issues for the whole industry, and will keep your executive busy in the lead up to conference.
Please do not hesitate to contact me or any of your executive members for more infomation on these issues.