Forest owners concerned with OIO proposal

Friday 19 Jan 2018

The Forest Owners Association in New Zealand is against the proposal the Overseas Investment Office should approve or decline sales of forest cutting rights. The FOA says it would jeopardise the government’s ambitions of both seeing a billion trees planted and of meeting its Paris Agreement obligations to reduce carbon emissions.

Treasury has invited submissions on a proposal to expand the scope of the OIO to include forest cutting rights for blocks of forestland larger than 50 hectares. But FOA President Peter Clark says overseas investors will look elsewhere if cutting rights came into the OIO.

“We entirely get the idea that any investment into New Zealand is a privilege. We know and accept that overseas investors who wish to buy or lease substantial areas of land in New Zealand to plant trees for harvest have to go through the OIO application process.”

“But this proposed change of direction goes well beyond land ownership into another interest entirely. The government issued a ministerial directive to the OIO back in late November. The directive separated approval criteria for forestland from that for farmland.”

“That separation was a clear signal that the government believed it was vital to attract investors to plant some of the extra 50,000 hectares of land a year which would be necessary to meet the government’s own billion tree target.”

The ministerial directive for forestland told the OIO to give high relative importance to the criterion for an investment which would ‘advance significant government policy. “This is a crucially important message” says Peter Clark. “This criterion was specifically not applied by the government to the sale of farmland.”

“The purpose and message of that ministerial directive was clearly to get enough investment in tree planting to use plantation trees’ ability to lock up large volumes of atmospheric carbon. This quality applies to every tree which is planted in every forest - not just by some investors, in some places, at some times.” More >>

For more comment on the suggested changes and potential impact on the forestry industry, click here.

Source: Forest Owners Association

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