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Govt confirms forestry scheme to get the chop

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Stuart Nash
Stuart Nash

By Maggie Tait of NZPA

Wellington, July 13 NZPA - The Government has confirmed it is axing a scheme to get more people to plant more trees, saying it is not needed now there is an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Labour Party forestry spokesman Stuart Nash said recently released budget documents showed the Afforestation Grant Scheme -- under which people can access a contestable fund designed to encourage planting new forests -- would be reduced by $2 million a year over the next three years and then ended.

"The planting of trees is vital to New Zealand meeting its Kyoto commitments," Mr Nash said.

"Trees eat carbon, as opposed to, for example, livestock that produce it. The only reason New Zealand doesn't have any international carbon liabilities is because of the amount of forests planted after 1990."

He said forestry also had the potential to be a large employer at a time when unemployment figures were high and the scheme's loss would also impact on local councils.

However, Forestry Minister David Carter said while under Labour deforestation had been a big problem that had changed and the ETS contained incentives for people to plant more trees.

"(The scheme) is now superfluous and therefore we are moving to wind it down, I think we can spend taxpayer money more efficiently," he told NZPA.

"From now the encouragement is there for people to plant trees and already we are seeing a reversal of the previous Government's deforestation occurring."

This year there would be more trees planted than cut down, building up to 5000 ha next year.

"We are actually seeing net afforestation occurring for the first time in five or six years."

Under the ETS people would plant trees because there was money to be made from carbon sequestration.

"We are already seeing interest from land owners with land suitable for forestry planting and forestry consultants tell me they are very busy talking to potential rural landowners about the possibility of planting more trees."

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