OPINION: The dust from the 2020 general election has settled and Labour has been given the mandate to govern New Zealand for the next three years.
Labour Party Forestry spokesperson Stuart Nash said food producing soil will take priority over planting trees to meet climate change challenges.
“Within the first six months of the next term of government, we will revise the National Environment Standards for Plantation Forestry to enable councils to once again determine what classes of land can be used for plantation and carbon forests.”
“Resource consent would be required for plantation or carbon forests on Land Use Capability Classes 1-5 – often known as elite soils – above a threshold of 50 hectares per farm to allow farmers flexibility in creating small plantations to support environmental goals,” said Nash.
Labour Party rural communities spokesperson Kieran McAnulty says 90% of forestry planting for ETS purpose happens on less productive soils in classes 6-8.
McAnulty says Labour wants to ensure all planting happens away from valuable soils in classes 1-5.
“Forestry is not bad: we need the right tree in the right place, but we also need the right mechanism to ensure this,” said McAnulty.
New Zealand has approximately 12.1 million hectares in farmland and 1.7m in forestry.
Labour says 22,000 hectares of farmland was converted to forestry in 2019, a figure conflicting with Beef + Lamb New Zealand, who claim about 70,000 hectares of productive sheep and beef land has been converted to forestry since 2019.