Frequently Asked Questions
I’m only a small grower. Why should I pay the levy?
The levy benefits all plantation forestry growers in New Zealand, big and small. The levy funds research into all sorts of things that could harm forests or foresters. For example, forest fires, pest control and health and safety. Large and small forest owners stand to benefit from the forest levy. The forestry industry is worth more than $6 billion in exports each year to New Zealand’s economy. It’s only fair that people in the industry pay their fair collective towards developing their own industry where collective activity is more feasible than an individual effort.
Why doesn’t the government just pay for all the research?
Many of the projects funded by the levy are co-funded from other sources such as the government. This means that the levy can be a powerful tool for funding research and other work needed by the forestry industry. It’s important that the forestry industry has the levy so it can direct the funding towards the initiatives that it knows will make a difference to both large and small forestry interests. The government also puts money into forestry through initiatives such as Primary Growth Partnership funding, in conjunction with the Ministry for Primary Industries. But to access the funds requires industry funding. As a critically important industry for New Zealand, we have a responsibility to manage our own development as an industry, and to ensure our collective expertise is heard in deciding what research is needed.
When do I vote?
There will be a ballot in March/April next year. This gives plenty of time for you to learn more about the levy and how it benefits you before you cast your vote. There will also be the opportunity for you to attend a meeting in your region, to hear why the levy is important, and all the things that it funds for your industry.
I’m only a small grower. How does my voice count against all the big forestry companies?
Everybody’s voice counts. The levy vote was set up to make sure that it was fair to big growers and small players. The vote can’t be swayed by a few large forest owners, or by a large number of small growers who have very few trees overall. The result of the vote has to be a majority of the votes cast in favour, and as well those votes have to represent a majority of the volume of forests owned by those voters.
How do I know if I can vote?
If you are the owner of a forest of at least 4 hectares and you plan to harvest your trees with in the lifespan of the next levy – from 2020 to 2025, then you can vote.
Who can vote in the 2018 referendum?
Anyone who potentially will pay the levy during the six-year life of the next Levy Order (2019 – 2024) will be entitled to vote. Forest owners who will not be liable to pay the levy will not be eligible to vote.
Each forest owner who owns a Qualifying Forest will be eligible to vote. There is one vote per forest owner regardless of the form of that ownership or the number of forests held by that owner.
A Qualifying Forest is a forest that has a Stand or Stands of trees of 10 years or more in age (or, for the purposes of this election, planted before 1 December 2008) totalling at least four hectares in area.
A Stand means a contiguous area that contains a number of trees that are relatively homogenous and have a common set of characteristics, normally managed as a single unit. This definition applies to all species, wildings, and regeneration of a planted stand of trees grown for eventual harvest, but excludes Christmas trees and trees grown for domestic firewood.
The forest age restriction is designed to ensure that everyone who is growing trees which might be harvested and sold in the 6-year levy period has the right to vote. It is assumed that the earliest a tree may be harvested is at age 16 via a production thinning.
Forest owners who will not be liable to pay the levy will not be eligible to nominate board members, or vote in the Board election.
Why should I vote for a levy when I don’t get any say in how it’s spent?
You do have a say. You can put your views forward through the Forest Owners Association or the Farm Forestry Association. In November 2018 there’s going to be a survey to find out what forest growers think of the planned levy spend for the next few years. Tell the Forest Growers Levy Trust how you think your levy funding should be spent. Every year the Trust puts out a call for proposals for projects to receive levy funding. Anyone can apply. And remember, the levy spend is for the benefit of all plantation forestry in New Zealand, so it benefits all plantation forest growers.