Time is nearly upon older forests

The deadline is looming for owners of older pre-1990 forests, who have until November 30 to apply for compensation from the Government.

The compensation is being offered in return for restrictions in the Emissions Trading Scheme on changing the land use away from forestry.

Greg Fahey and Mort Shepherd, from Dunedin firm Venture Partners, which provides carbon market and forestry services, have urged forest owners to act quickly.

They were seeing "a number of lost opportunities" in the forest industry, with figures released by MAF earlier this month indicating more than seven million carbon credits, representing about 350,000ha of pre-1990 forests, have yet to be claimed.

The compensation was valuable - a 30ha stand of older pine trees might deliver $25,000 worth of carbon credits at current prices and those could be sold tax-free. But many forest owners did not fully understand what was on offer or were ignoring it.

They would miss out on the compensation if they did not act quickly. But the land-use restrictions still applied, regardless of whether those forest owners got compensated or not.

Venture Partners aimed to cut through the complexity of emissions trading, making carbon markets clear and accessible.

They were receiving inquiries from farmers wary of the potential costs from the ETS in the future and wanting to talk about the economics of planting new forest stands on marginal land.

Mr Fahey has been involved in environmental markets since 2005 and combines specialist knowledge of the carbon sector with 11 years' experience as a corporate lawyer for international law and environment firms.

From 2007 to 2010 he worked in Oxford in the UK for carbon-market pioneer EcoSecurities, engaging in a range of emissions trading, carbon and renewable energy projects and carbon portfolio management.

Mr Shepherd has 15 years' experience working in the forestry industry throughout New Zealand, Canada and Southeast Asia.

He has been involved in many aspects of the industry, including forest management and harvesting.

More recently, he was responsible for pre-harvest appraisals, domestic and export log sales and harvest management, while working for PF Olsen.

The Australian House of Representatives recently passed clean energy legislation which means Australia will put a price on carbon.

The Australian scheme would start as a carbon tax, starting in July 2012, and would then shift to an emissions trading scheme from 2015. Mr Fahey believed that move reinforced that the ETS in New Zealand was "here to stay".

The pair wanted to help people make the most of it and find the opportunities.



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