Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Times of Georgia
HomePoliticalBroken Election Promise On Carbon Farming Will Hurt Rural Communities

Broken Election Promise On Carbon Farming Will Hurt Rural Communities


Federated Farmers has been checking the calendar – six
months on from last year’s election and the government has
broken an election promise to protect productive
farmland.

Labour pledged if re-elected it would take
less than six months to protect productive farmland from the
rampant spread of large-scale exotic tree planting across
the country.

“We were told they would revise the
National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry to
require forestry blocks intended to be larger than 50
hectares on elite soils, that means Land Use Capability
Classes 1-5, to have to get a resource consent,” Federated
Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says.

“We’ve been
reading the papers, but this hasn’t happened yet. In fact,
there are no signs at all that they are seriously moving
forward on this.”

At the time it was made, the
election promise was cheered by Feds’ members.

“It
was a sign the government finally acknowledged there was an
issue with large-scale exotic tree planting, and the damage
the free-for-all to plant pines was doing to rural
communities,” Andrew says.

The focus on LUC classed
land 1-5 was far from ideal with a lot of sheep and beef
farms classed LUC 6 and higher falling to
forestry.

“But it was at least an opportunity to
consider how we regulate to get the right trees planted in
the right places, for the right reasons.”

The
government is also yet to initiate a long-expected review of
the special forestry test for overseas
investment.

Feds says the loose requirements of the
special forestry test encourage overseas investors to
purchase productive farms for wholesale conversion to
forestry rather than keep those farms in agricultural
production.

“Blanket forestry for carbon farming shuts
down rural communities. Employment to plant the trees and
that’s the end of it. No pruning, and no timber ever again
from the land,” Andrew says.

“Short term thinking by
government is creating permanent damage to rural communities
and the national economy.

“What farmers need to see
from the government is a widespread review of the full range
of policies that are leading to the loss of productive
farms, export income, employment and the undermining of
rural communities.

“The Minister has said he’ll keep
moving on this. We’d like to see him and his colleagues
move a little
faster.”

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