25 Nov 2009

Olive branch to those left out of ETS deal

9:30 pm on 25 November 2009

Iwi leaders have thrown an olive branch to forestry owners left out of the Government's amended Emissions Trading Scheme.

The deal struck between the National Party and the Maori Party this week allows five iwi whose Treaty of Waitangi settlements included pre-1990 forests to plant trees on Conservation Department (DoC) land and collect the carbon credits.

Willie Te Aho of the Climate Change Iwi Leadership Group says the next step is to provide a framework for other Maori landowners with pre-1990 forests to also plant on DoC land.

That could then be extended to other forest owners, he says.

Eyes on a further 200,000ha of DoC land

Mr Te Aho says he has already spoken to the Forest Owners Association, which has called the iwi deal unjust, and he'll be meeting its chairman again later in the week.

He says the deal is a great opportunity to offset the liabilities that owners of pre-1990 forestry land would have faced. The five iwi covered in the deal had been facing the prospect of their Treaty settlement forests plummeting in value.

Iwi leaders now have their eyes on 200,000 hectares of DoC land for afforestation. Mr Te Aho says DoC has been asked to identify suitable land with low conservation value, on top of the 35,000 hectares already earmarked for the five iwi.