Government review advises removing barriers which are stopping plantations participating in carbon policy. Labor now agrees. What does Prime Minister…

A Departmental review of the
restrictions in the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) that effectively exclude
plantation and farm forestry projects from the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF)
has confirmed that these barriers should be removed.

The Australian Forest Products
Association (AFPA) urges the Government to finally act to allow forestry to
play a greater role in Australia’s climate change efforts and grow more trees, vitally
needed for future timber production.

A letter from the Assistant
Minister with responsibility for Forestry, which has been released to the
Senate, urges Environment Minister Melissa Price to remove rainfall restrictions
which are strangling carbon sequestration opportunities for Plantations and
Farm Forestry.

The February 2019 letter notes that
water use by plantations is already considered through state water planning
processes and the National Water Initiative, and that under the CFI regulations
the Agriculture Minister also has complete veto power over any plantation
project deemed to have “an undesirable impact on agricultural production”.

In his letter, Senator Colbeck
says:

“In recognition of the
government’s commitment to review the water restrictions for plantations, and
the clear lack of new plantation development that is occurring at the present
time, I would like to request your consideration of removing the 600mm rule
from the CFI negative list and the 400mm rule from the farm forestry
methodology. I believe this will have untold benefits for Australia’s carbon
abatement goals and for our forestry industry…I look forward to working with
you on considering his important action in support of a strong and viable
forestry industry.”

In its
National Forest Industries Plan, released in September last year, the Federal
Government committed to “undertaking a review of the water requirements in the [CFI]
farm forestry and plantation methodologies to enable forestry to fully
participate in the ERF”.

Chief
Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Mr Ross Hampton,
welcomed Senator Colbeck’s letter backing AFPA’s campaign to remove the water
restrictions in the CFI and thanked him for his support for the industry.

Meanwhile,
Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Joel Fitzgibbon has now
promised a future Labor Government would do the right thing in this area. In a media release, Mr Fitzgibbon said:

“A Shorten Labor Government is
committed to removing the water rule and will reinvigorate the land offset
market, to help industry reduce pollution at least cost, and give farmers, the
forestry industry and traditional land owners new opportunities to earn
income.”

Mr Hampton said “AFPA has been
seeking equal footing for production trees with environmental trees in carbon
reduction policy for more than three years.
It is gratifying that we are finally seeing some common sense applied to
this matter but deeply disappointing that it is coming in the dying days of this
Parliament when there is no time left for the Morrison Government to table the
regulation and have the anomaly corrected.

“AFPA will be making this our
number one issue in the coming election campaign and will be seeking
unequivocal commitments from candidates and Parties particularly in forestry
focused seats.

“We shall be ensuring the
communities who work in our industries, in those electorates understand which
candidates are backing the growth of a resource base for our industry, and are
therefore helping secure the future for the 120,000 Australians who work across
the forest industry value chain around Australia,” Mr Hampton concluded.

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