The move is to ensure rural communities are well supported in the economic recovery,” Labour’s forestry spokesman Stuart Nash says.
“While we will continue to plant the right tree in the right place to meet our climate change challenges our food producing soil will be our number one priority.
“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 consents will be needed for plantation or carbon forests on elite soils, classes 1 to 5, above a threshold of 50 hectares a farm to allow farmers flexibility in creating small plantations to support environmental goals.
“While 90% of forestry planting for Emissions Trading Scheme purpose happens on less productive soils in classes 6-8 we want to ensure all planting happens away from our most valuable soils,” Labour Party rural communities spokesman Kieran McAnulty said.
“Forestry is not bad. We need the right tree in the right place but we also need the right mechanism to ensure this.
“This move builds on Government work to protect our elite soils, which make up about 14% of our New Zealand soil – including protecting elite Pukekohe soil from urban sprawl.
“Communities know best about their local sectors and should be able to determine whether forestry should be happening on their productive pastoral land.
“People always have a choice about who they sell their farms to and foreign investment has always been part of our landscape – forestry has been two-thirds foreign-owned for many decades.
“We’ve seen land use redistribution across the decades but it will always remain heavily weighted in farmland’s favour.
“This is even more important as we grow our way out of the covid economic crisis and ensure we can keep exporting the very best and nutritious, food and fibre to the world,” McAnulty said.
NZ has about 12.1 million hectares in farmland and 1.7m in forestry, following a decline in forestry which was at 2m hectares in 2002.
Last year 22,000 hectares of farmland was converted to forestry. In the past decade 70,000 hectares of forestry was converted mostly to dairy.