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19, Sep, 2007

Green groups and foresters join forces on climate change


Category: ECO Inc

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

The Environment & Conservation Organisations of NZ (ECO), Federated Mountain Clubs, Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society, Sustainable Energy Forum, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), NZ Farm Forestry Association, NZ Forest Owners Association, Wood Processors Association

Green groups and foresters join forces on climate change

For more information, contact Cath Wallace (ECO), Tel 021 891 994, David Rhodes (NZFOA) Tel 0274 955 525, Kevin Hackwell (F&B), Tel 04 385 7374 or Molly Melhuish (SEF), Tel 04 568 4873

Major environmental and forest industry groups are calling for the government to adopt climate change policies that are fair, efficient and apply to all industries.

This follows a decision to reaffirm the 1991 Forest Accord and to extend it to include climate change.

"Forestry, environmental and outdoor recreation groups that signed the Accord are concerned at the effects of the government's climate change policy direction on forests and forestry," said ECO spokeswoman Cath Wallace.

"It is important that we urgently get policies that adhere to the polluter pays principle so that all emitters face the costs of the impact they have on the environment. Such policies need to be equitable across sectors and give due recognition to the role of forests."

NZFOA chief executive David Rhodes said the Accord partners wish to see greater appreciation of the role of indigenous and plantation forests in mitigating climate change. They also want to see greater efforts being made to protect and enhance forests and other carbon sink eco-systems.

"Forestry has an important role to play, both directly through carbon storage in both trees and wood products and indirectly through substituting for more carbon intensive processes and fossil fuel usage. The expansion of forests and use of forest products should be positively promoted for these reasons."

Ms Wallace said it was important for all sectors and all greenhouse gases to be included in the government's proposed emissions trading scheme.

"There has been some suggestion from the government that it is too hard to include agriculture at this stage. This is simply untrue - there are several ways livestock farmers can significantly reduce their nitrous oxide emissions at reasonable cost.

"They can also switch to crop growing, including for biofuels, or can offset their increased methane emissions by planting trees or buying emission credits."

The Forest Accord was a landmark document when it was signed in 1991, putting an end to years of hostility between conservationists and foresters.

Under its provisions, forest owners agreed not to clear native forests to establish plantations and to protect remnants of indigenous vegetation within their plantations. For their part, conservationists acknowledged the environmental benefits of sustainably managed plantation forests.

"The Accord partners have reaffirmed the Accord, which recognises the value of both indigenous and planted forests," said Forest & Bird advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell.

"Now we want to build on this by advancing a number of principles and policy positions which we believe should guide climate change policy."

The key policy points are:

  • Carbon sequestration by forests should be utilised to help New Zealand's transition to a carbon neutral economy.
  • Wood is a renewable, reusable and recyclable resource that can play a significant role in the production of energy; and can be substituted for materials that cause greater greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Government policies must be consistent with the polluter pays principle -- be broad-based, equitable, efficient and cover all greenhouse gases in all sectors;
  • They should have clear, early, time-bound targets that lead to net greenhouse gas emission reductions;
  • They should promote the retention and expansion of indigenous forests and the replanting and expansion of plantation forests and associated use of wood products to recognise their positive climate change benefits, and encourage the maintenance and enhancement of existing carbon reservoirs and carbon sinks;
  • They should avoid perverse outcomes such as the loss of indigenous forests or greenhouse reservoirs in other indigenous ecosystems; and should avoid net increases in green house gases;
  • Be consistent with customary rights and responsibilities of Maori; and with the Treaty of Waitangi;
  • Be non-partisan and politically durable; and
  • Recognise the contribution of the post-1990 forests to New Zealand's Kyoto Protocol Commitments.

[ends - Forest Accord Climate Change Addendum 2007 follows]

Climate Change and Forest Accord (September 2007)

A. Recognising that the agreed objectives of the New Zealand Forest Accord signed in August 1991:

  • define those areas where it is inappropriate to establish plantation forestry;
  • recognise the important heritage values of New Zealand's remaining natural indigenous forests and the need for their protection and conservation;
  • acknowledge that the existing area of natural indigenous forest in New Zealand should be maintained and enhanced;
  • recognise that commercial plantation forest of either introduced or indigenous species are an essential source of perpetually renewable fibre and energy, offering an alternative to the depletion of natural forests;
  • acknowledge the mutual benefits emanating from an accord between New Zealand commercial forestry enterprises and conservation groups and the example that this unique accord can provide for the international community;

B. and, acknowledging the ongoing durability of, and with specific reference to, the New Zealand Forest Accord and responding to the urgency of the threat of climate change, the parties recognise the following specific climate change related principles:

  1. That environmental benefits delivered by indigenous forests and plantation forests include storing carbon in reservoirs and sequestrating carbon in sinks.
  2. That carbon sequestration by forests is a key mechanism to offset green house gas emissions and should be utilized to help New Zealand's transition to a carbon neutral economy.
  3. That policies must be consistent with the Polluter Pays Principle, be broad based, equitable, efficient and cover all greenhouse gases in all sectors.
  4. That policies should avoid perverse outcomes such as the loss of indigenous forests or greenhouse reservoirs in other indigenous ecosystems; and should avoid net increases in green house gases.
  5. That policies should promote the retention and expansion of indigenous forests and the replanting and expansion of plantation forests and associated use of wood products to recognize their positive climate change benefits.
  6. That policies should ensure all sectors are taking responsibility for their post-1990 emissions
  7. That policies should be consistent with customary rights and responsibilities of Maori; and should be consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi.
  8. That wood is a renewable, reusable and recyclable resource that can play a significant role in the production of energy; and can be substituted for materials that cause greater greenhouse gas emissions.
C. the parties further agree that government climate change policies must:
  1. Be consistent with the principles listed under section B;
  2. Be non partisan and politically durable;
  3. Encourage the maintenance and enhancement of existing carbon reservoirs and carbon sinks;
  4. Recognise the contribution of the post-1990 forests to New Zealand's Kyoto Protocol Commitments;
  5. Have measures to reduce emissions that are consistent with the Polluter Pays Principle, effective, broad based, equitable, efficient and cover all greenhouse gases in all sectors;
  6. Promptly implement a carbon equivalent price on all greenhouse gases;
  7. Have clear, early, time-bound targets that lead to net greenhouse gas emission reductions;
  8. The Parties to this agreement are:

    Environment and Conservation Organisations of Aotearoa New Zealand
    Ecologic Foundation
    New Zealand Farm Forestry Association
    Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand
    New Zealand Forest Owners Association
    Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand
    Sustainable Energy Forum
    Wood Processors Association of New Zealand
    WWF-New Zealand

    [ends]

    Click here for a copy of the 1991 Accord

    Trevor Walton
    NZFOA communications
    Tel 021 381 465