Despite the rhetoric about the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), many people are not aware of the opportunities available to post-1989 forest land currently in their exotic forest or indigenous reversion.
We believe there is an estimated 80 per cent of landowners who have more than 20 hectares of exotic forest or large areas of indigenous reversion who could benefit from the ETS, but have not registered.
That is a larger figure than the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) estimates that as of May 2012, 60 per cent of post-1989 forest in New Zealand has been registered into the ETS. By and large this is major forestry companies, larger forest owners and those private landowners who have engaged and understood the process.
If you have land that is better in forest or indigenous reversion than in farming, then the ETS is the best thing to come along since aerial top dressing.
It should be understood so that a conscious decision to enter or not can be made. At this late stage a message
that post-1989 forest landowners need to hear is that:
- The ETS is here to stay
- You or someone you know will be affected by the ETS
- 80 per cent of eligible landowners who could register and benefit have not yet done so
- Participants can register any time, but if not registered before the end of this year will miss out on their 2008 to 2012 allocation of credits. These will revert to the Crown
- The no risk option is to register, claim and bank the credits thereby having all future options covered.
- Be aware of both the opportunities and the obligations.
Land transfers - and the ETS
If an ETS participant sells their property, or changes the names on the title by more than 40 per cent, then they must make a mandatory emission return to MPI within 20 working days of the land transfer being effected. Failure to do so will put you in breach of the Act.
The vendor is responsible for providing to MPI a ''Transfer of Participation'' form to affect the new landowner as participant.
Regardless of whether the previous owner effects the transfer form, if someone buys or acquires in a different entity, land that is post- 1989 registered, they automatically inherit the obligations registered against that land, unless the previous participant withdraws the land from the ETS prior to it transferring.
Unlike obligations on pre- 1990 forest land, which are both punitive and costly if incurred, the rules around post-1989 forest, such as land transfer administration, are very manageable.
If you have land that has been planted in exotic trees or reverted into indigenous cover since 1989 and it is the best use of that land, the benefits of the ETS are worth fully understanding.