Improved ETS scheme to boost new forests
HIGHER INCOME FROM AN IMPROVED ETS SCHEME WILL DRIVE the expansion of plantation forests in New Zealand in the future, says a senior government official.
Julie Collins, head of Te Uru Râkau, the new forestry division of the Ministry of Primary Industries, says a focus currently being considered for the ETS is to make the carbon market more ‘liquid’.
This will see a move to ‘averaging’ of new forests for carbon credits, which means that instead of having to pay all of the units back when the forest is harvested, forest owners may be able to keep up to 60% provided the trees are replanted. So they’ll be able to sell those credits and earn additional income, as well as selling the wood.
Along with other changes being proposed, Ms Collins says this will make it easier for forest owners to get into the ETS and manage their carbon liabilities.
This should deliver a significant incentive for private investors to develop new forests without the need for support from the public purse.
But there is still a considerable amount of land that currently needs incentives to help owners develop new forests and one of the tools that is helping to make this happen is the joint venture programme being developed by Crown Forestry to plant up to 24,000 hectares in 2018 and 2019 in partnerships. Currently, 5,000 hectares has already been contracted to go into forests.
Ms Collins also acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges to the government’s plans to expand forestry in New Zealand is the shortage of labour in key parts of the industry.
“This is hitting nurseries, planting and silviculture and in some places, logging,” she says. “So one of the key things we are going to need to do is see how we are going to improve our workforce pipeline and bring more people into the system and get them trained up for these roles and to retain them.
“We do know that to get some of Mr Jones’ nephs off their couches will require more support to get work ready.
“One thing the industry needs to do to help is significantly improve its track record in employment conditions and health & safety if we truly want to become the first place for people looking at future careers.”
Meanwhile, she says her organisation is now looking at what it needs to do to develop a skills and training package that can further assist the industry. Another focus will be to look at domestic log supply and encouraging more wood processing to be done in New Zealand. Among the schemes being considered that will assist the industry is the development of a wood-first procurement policy for use in government buildings.
“And once we’ve got those pieces in place we are looking at developing a comprehensive future forestry strategy.”