FOR­EST TALK

New Zealand Logger - - Contents -

ETS un­cer­tainty con­tin­ues to dog new for­est plant­ing; two more forestry deaths last month; new Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Stan­dards will chal­lenge some foresters; NZ­made Har­vest­lines take off in Chile; har­ness­ing tthe Jones ef­fect; train­ing crews part of new fo­cus; Waratah says tech train­ing cru­cial; re­sults from the lat­est log­ging con­trac­tor sur­vey; in­creased mech­a­ni­sa­tion is re­duc­ing wire rope life; com­pe­ti­tion pushes struc­tural log prices to new record; Toi Ohomai and Scion join forces; first awards a suc­cess for south­ern North Is­land foresters; up­skilling the peo­ple in the back­of­fice; more new forests funded through grant scheme.

FORESTRY IS STILL NO CLOSER TO CER­TAINTY OVER THE FU­TURE of the ETS scheme in New Zealand, in spite of more in­for­ma­tion be­ing re­leased by the gov­ern­ment.

That sit­u­a­tion hasn’t been helped by the elec­tion, as the next gov­ern­ment could push the changes out even fur­ther. None of which will en­cour­age in­vestors to plant more trees.

And that’s frus­trat­ing for­est own­ers and wood pro­ces­sors who say that while they ap­pre­ci­ate the gov­ern­ment needs to fine tune the Emis­sions Trad­ing Scheme, they be­lieve present un­cer­tainty in the ETS might lead to a re­duc­tion in for­est plant­ing, just when it needs to in­crease.

The chair­per­son of the pan-in­dus­try or­gan­i­sa­tion WoodCo, Brian Stan­ley, says the cru­cial role of the plan­ta­tion for­est in­dus­try in lock­ing up atmospheric car­bon needs more cer­tainty in the ETS.

He says: “The gov­ern­ment has just an­nounced that it’s work­ing on for­mu­las in the ETS which will recog­nise that tim­ber locks up car­bon just like the trees it’s de­rived from. That is good – it recog­nises re­al­ity. Car­bon may be locked up in a build­ing longer than it was in the trees the build­ing was made from and this should be fac­tored into the ETS.

“There’s also the prospect, which is be­ing con­sid­ered, that for­est grow­ers could get their car­bon cred­its av­er­aged over the ro­ta­tion of a for­est. At the mo­ment, it’s all the cred­its earned when they plant and all have to be re­turned when they har­vest.

“There ought to be a sim­ple op­tion avail­able for foresters to smooth re­ceiv­ing cred­its over a for­est’s long term av­er­age.

“So, what we are con­cerned about is that the gov­ern­ment is in ef­fect send­ing a mes­sage to any­one con­tem­plat­ing plant­ing trees that they should plant later on and not do it now. A po­ten­tial forester is likely to think they ought to de­lay a cou­ple of years or more be­cause they might get a bet­ter ETS reg­u­la­tory deal when they plant then.

“The gov­ern­ment should sim­ply say no­body is go­ing to be dis­ad­van­taged by the out­come of the ETS re­view if they de­cide to plant now.”

Brian Stan­ley also says there is no rea­son why the gov­ern­ment it­self should not take an ini­tial lead role in get­ting forests planted out, even if it ex­ited from own­er­ship once the plant­ing mo­men­tum was un­der­way.

“It’s not as though it would cost the gov­ern­ment in the long term,” he says. “There’s good in­come to be made out of grow­ing trees, so long as you are pre­pared to wait. In com­par­i­son, us­ing bil­lions of dol­lars to buy over­seas car­bon cred­its doesn’t re­turn any­thing.

“An­other fear is that if the crit­i­cal in­dus­try labour train­ing and re­cruit­ment is not sorted now, there will be no­body avail­able to plant the trees in the rush of vol­ume that will be needed if we de­lay any fur­ther.”

Among the changes the gov­ern­ment has flagged that are caus­ing for­est own­ers to re-think their for­ward plans is a pro­posal to re­open the New Zealand emis­sions trad­ing scheme to in­ter­na­tional car­bon cred­its, though not the dis­as­trous scale of the past that saw lo­cal cred­its plum­met in value.

Cli­mate Change Min­is­ter Paula Ben­nett an­nounced the in­ten­tion to con­trol the num­ber of so-called New Zealand Units (NZUs) of car­bon by putting up pre-de­ter­mined quan­ti­ties for auc­tion, re­mov­ing the $25 per tonne up­per limit on the price of a tonne of New Zealand car­bon and re­open­ing the New Zealand ETS to in­ter­na­tional car­bon cred­its.

The ETS has been closed to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets since 2015 fol­low­ing con­tro­versy over the flood of very low-cost and highly sus­pect in­ter­na­tional car­bon cred­its from for­mer Soviet states.

The other main an­nounce­ment from Ms Ben­nett was to com­mit to de­ci­sions about car­bon unit sup­ply on a five-year ahead rolling ba­sis to bring greater cer­tainty to the ETS, which has been plagued by un­cer­tainty and pol­icy swings.

How the pro­posed auc­tion sys­tem will work, along with the tim­ing and ex­tent of the price cap changes and ac­cess to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets are still to be fi­nalised. De­ci­sions on treat­ment of forestry plant­ing in the ETS and the phas­ing out of ‘free al­lo­ca­tion’ of car­bon cred­its to trade-ex­posed in­dus­tries will be ad­dressed by mid-2018, the Min­is­ter says. No changes in how the ETS op­er­ates are ex­pected be­fore 2020.

NZL

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