Forestry Minister Shane Jones and Climate Change Minister James Shaw have released a consultation paper proposing a dozen improvements to forestry regulations in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme.
"We have listened to the sector and these improvements are another step towards making investment and participation in forestry easier and cheaper," Jones said in a joint statement with Shaw.
The proposals take into account feedback from the 2015/16 NZ ETS Review, along with insights from the submission of mandatory emissions returns from the 2,300 forestry participants in the scheme.
Forest owners participate in the ETS in two ways. Owners can apply to register their post-1989 forest land into the ETS to earn the main unit of trade in the ETS, the New Zealand Unit.
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Pre-1990 forest landowners can harvest and replant their forest without any liability but when non-exempt pre-1990 land is deforested they must submit an emissions return and pay units for deforestation.
The proposed changes address gaps and weaknesses in the current carbon accounting methodology, and correct other technical issues that have become apparent since the regulations were last amended.
They also simplify the operation of the forestry components of the ETS, without running counter to longer-term solutions that require legislative change, and reduce fiscal and reputational risk to the Crown, according to the discussion document.
The submission period will be open until July 3 and ministers will consider final proposals arising from the documents later in 2018, and any new or amended regulations would come into force in early 2019, the ministers said.
They added that the changes are independent of other policy changes that may occur following the NZ ETS review and which will be consulted on later this year.