EDS claims unfounded and should know better

Forest Owners Association

14 NOVEMBER 2022

The President of the Forest Owners Association says that once again the commercial forest industry is having to point to its science based environmental credentials to organisations such as the Environmental Defence Society which Grant Dodson says should know better.

“It is well proven that commercial plantations produce better water quality than other commercial land uses, such as farming or urban environments.”

“We are second only to pristine native bush. It is well known that plantation trees reduce erosion, produce less sediment, store carbon and produce valuable wood for housing and bioenergy.”

Grant Dodson says the Environmental Defence Society has failed to provide any evidence of ‘significant adverse environmental impacts’ ‘in most instances’ from when plantation forests are harvested.

EDS and Pure Advantage have made these claims to a government discussion document on the ‘National Direction for Plantation and Exotic Carbon Afforestation’.

“Just look at the effect of the recent storms on the East Coast, where forests held and pasture collapsed on a vast scale. The evidence is there to see in plain sight.”

Grant Dodson says FOA does not represent carbon-only foresters, rather the interests of commercial forests that are to be well managed and will be harvested creating employment, as well as storing carbon.

“The carbon-only foresters can argue their own case to the government. But we do hold concerns that the so-called permanent carbon forests may become a fire and disease risk in an unmanged state.”

“There is a need for some rules around carbon-only forests and we are encouraging the government to create a separate National Environmental Standard for this land use.”

“However the EDS submission is way off the mark about the current regulations for plantation foresty.”

“Their statements about the current National Environmental Standard for commercial plantations being ‘ultra vires’ is just delusional.”

“The EDS acknowledges the emerging global bioeconomy and therefore the environmental imperative to produce enough wood to supply it, but then gets lost in wanting to stop exotic tree harvesting.”

“The NES for plantation forestry is only five years old. It’s provisions are performing well, but will take time to come into effect over a 30 year plantation lifecycle.”

“Many forests still in the growth phase have yet to have earthworks and harvest operations undertaken under the new standard. It’s still coming into effect and the benefits are not yet fully realised.”

“EDS opposition to clonal planting is again typical of their anti-science approach. They want forests to be grown from random seed rather than cuttings for some reason. Clonal selection enables, among other selection criteria, quick supplies of trees which resist drought. With climate change, even EDS should think that is a desirable characteristic.”

Grant Dodson also says EDS demand for limits on yearly planting rates is also unfounded and goes directly against their own stated desire to urgently fight climate change.

EDS is citing the Climate Change Commission emissions budgeting of 380,000 hectares of exotic planting before 2035 and a 15 year rate of 25,000 hectares to achieve it.

“But not long ago the Productivity Commission was stating New Zealand needed up to 75,000 hectares a year of exotic afforestation right through to 2050,” Grant Dodson says.

“We are nowhere near that rate.”

“It’s well known that New Zealand has a real challenge to meet its emission targets. If tree planting rates are exceeded in the short term that’s a good thing for the climate. A confusing message indeed from EDS.”

Grant Dodson
Forest Owners Association President