By Don Carson, Communications Manager for the Forest Owners Association
There’s a lot to commend in the 50 Shades of Green submission to the Climate Change Commission on the Commission’s draft recommendations to the government on meeting greenhouse gas emission goals.50 Shades questions the accuracy of information on forest planting rates. Nobody knows for sure how much exotic forestry is going in with no intention to harvest, but to just use it for carbon credits. Whatever views people may have on this, any debate should be based on accurate numbers.
Then there is the effect of transition from farmland to forestland. Until harvest and infrastructure crews are working regularly in a region, there is a risk that job numbers will shrink. Once forests are established then, as the PwC Report last year shows, local jobs will probably increase beyond their previous farming levels. But, as 50 Shades of Green observes, there is a need for government to investigate the effects of the transition, and, if necessary, assist in that transition. This is also true of regions where forestry is no longer viable because of erosion risk and the trees are no longer being harvested.
50 Shades of Green also wants a reduction of emissions throughout the economy to combat climate change. This is a mature position to take and one which the forest industry has no argument with. We have never wanted nor asked to take on the job of offsetting the emissions of the rest of the economy. What we in forestry have been asked to do by the Climate Change Commission is offset the rather large margin between what the rest of the economy can do, and what it is not likely to do.
50 Shades of Green express concerns about wilding confers, though then appear to mean that because some conifers are capable of spreading onto pasture or conservation land then all such trees are invasive and that the seeds come from plantation forests.
The most invasive species are a legacy of trees planted as erosion control; contorta and nigra. Shelterbelts are another seed source.The dominant plantation species is, of course, Pinus radiata. Its seeds don’t travel far and seedlings are palatable to stock. Others, in particular, Douglas fir, can spread. Accordingly, its planting is restricted by the National Environmental Standard – Plantation Forestry. The Wilding Tree Calculator must be used where there is a risk to assess that risk.