Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ZenTiger Tax money does grow on trees

There will be many examples of Carbon Tax insanity as the world runs like lemmings towards the high cliffs of Global Warming. Here's a new one that results in taxpayers spending an extra 800 million dollars in TAX PENALTIES on top of the cost of working to improve our forest land. This tax is payable because Department of Conservation decided to cut down what it thinks are bad trees so that good trees might grow in the same place.

The incentive to stop carbon pollution must be working. They've decided just to leave the bush alone. Pretty soon, we'll be paying fines if we pull up weeds to allow other plants to grow. This is what DOC are effectively being penalised $800 million dollars for. Although, it's not DOC's money, is it? It used to be ours.

The Department of Conservation battles every year to push back the spreading tide of wilding pines, spread as seedlings from poorly-located pine plantations. A lot of them are pinus contorta, written off years ago as not even useful for timber. They encroach on regenerating native forests and other ecosystems such as tussock lands and left alone can completely dominate. The problem is widespread east of the Southern Alps, from Southland to Marlborough, as well as in the Kaweka Forest Park (near Napier) and the Central Plateau. As well as threatening native biodiversity and iconic landscapes like those around Aoraki/Mt Cook, it has economic costs too. It reduces productive values of grazing land and, unchecked, will reduce the volume of water entering our hydro lakes.

However, controlling wilding pines on the 210,000ha of conservation land that is at risk is turning out to be an expensive job for DOC. On top of the cost of staff and transport and chainsaws and herbicide, they are now being charged a deforestation carbon penalty by MAF. Control of these weeds for the public benefit is being hit by the same rules as private companies who convert forestry to dairy.

For the first six months of this year, this cost DOC $811,000 – a large amount for a department that has already had its budget for this year cut by $13.5 million.
So where does this tax payer money go? And how many organisations take a margin or increase a cost as it flows past their window?

Related Link: Wild and perverse incentives not to manage the environment

Note: Ironically, perhaps this might turn out to be a good thing. A strong case can be made for DOC to not worry about Wilding Pines anyway, as they can be helpful in rebuilding the land. That still doesn't excuse the obvious unintentional side effects of the ETS scheme.

3 comment(s):

Andrei said...

If you don't clear it you increase the chance of forest fires and who pays the carbon levy for them I wonder?

Psycho Milt said...

They should call all these attempts to artificially simulate market signals "unintended consequence taxes" - just a wildcard thrown into the mix for the sake of completely random results.

ZenTiger said...

Good idea. I'm sure the government will implement it the moment they recognise the "unintended consequences to handing out tax payer money" on issues like welfare and funding NGOs.

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