Australia: Land Management And Climate Change - New Policies Proposed

Last Updated: 22 January 2007
Article by Lucie Drummond and Helen Atkins

2006 will be noted as the year that public perception changed in relation to climate change and acknowledged the phenomenon as ‘real’. New Zealand has not been an exception to this change. Most major political parties now present policies that acknowledge climate change and focus on sustainable development. The Prime Minister has declared an aim for the country to become carbon neutral. It appears generally accepted that major changes in climate change policy needs to occur.

In November 2006 the Climate Change Response Amendment Act was passed, introducing the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative (PFSI) and opening the carbon registry of New Zealand. While these changes could be placed at the minor end of the spectrum of policy changes, they are an indication of changes to come.

In December 2006 the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Minister responsible for Climate Change issued a discussion document titled ‘Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change - Options for a Plan of Action’. This discussion document aims to develop policies for the agriculture and forestry sectors to be developed and implemented through a plan of action. Submissions on the documents are due by 30 March 2007.

Overall structure

The discussion document is divided into four key pillars. Pillar 1 relates to adapting to climate change and the different ways in which we might do this. Pillar 2 relates to the policies that could be used to reduce emissions and create carbon sinks. Pillar 3 looks at business opportunities arising from climate change and Pillar 4 is how the sectors and government can work together to achieve the plan of action. It is intended that the final plan of action will contain a set of both goals and actions. In some areas the Government is seeking feedback on immediate action that can be taken. Specifically the Government is looking to find a preferred package of land management policies for the Cabinet to consider shortly after feedback on this document is received.

Policy options presented in the discussion document

The Government has presented 16 possible options from which a preferred policy package will be created after the consultation concludes. The package includes cost based and incentive based measures for both the agriculture and forestry sectors. Both reductions in emissions and increases in the amount of sinks are being sought from the policies.

Agriculture policy options

The 10 proposed policy options provided for the agricultural sector comprise long term options (most of which are currently underway - including research into technology), and options for encouraging reductions now. The options for reductions now include price based measures, regulations and options for focusing on land use change from forestry to agriculture. The pricing mechanisms include providing incentives for purchasing nitrification inhibitors and charging for nitrogen fertilisers. These charges or incentives appear to be an option that could be introduced with the immediacy indicated by the Government. Alternatively (or possibly in conjunction with) these changes could be market based mechanisms such as tradeable permits or offset schemes for agricultural emissions. A tradable permit regime could link into the carbon registry and help to create an emissions trading scheme in New Zealand. Regulation could be established through the development of a national environmental standard under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) to control agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. The options that focus on land use change are likely to be a RMA standard or a charge on land that is deforested.

These options signal significant change for the agricultural sector. Any changes will affect land managers, farm owners, local councils, fertiliser producers, and others involved in the agricultural sector.

Forestry policy options

The proposed policy options for the forestry sector are broken down into afforestation options and deforestation options. In relation to afforestation the options are a grant scheme or the provision of a choice between a grant scheme and devolution of sink credits and liabilities. The devolution of sink credits and liabilities from the Government to the owner of the forest land or the forest owner, would create a tradable right for that person. The PFSI introduced in November last year has, to some extent, provided the option of the devolution of credits and liabilities already. The deforestation options are broken down into government pricing, market based mechanisms, and regulation. The government pricing mechanism would be a flat charge on land that has changed from forestry to another use. The market based mechanism would be a tradeable permit regime. Regulation is likely to be either centrally through a deforestation level set by the Government or through the RMA. Under the RMA local authorities can control vegetation removal, however this cannot be done for the purpose of managing climate change unless a National Environmental Standard (NES) is introduced by the Government. A NES introduced by the Minister for the Environment could have the effect of setting thresholds on the amount of deforestation that could occur.

Overall the forestry policies are more detailed than those proposed for the agricultural sector. It is likely that this is a reflection of the discussions that have occurred between the Government and the forestry sector in relation to the Climate Change Response Amendment Act.

These proposed policies will have an impact on land owners, forest owners, those involved with forestry products and other in the forestry sector.

What next?

Submissions on this discussion document are due on 30 March 2007. The Government will be holding public discussion groups in February and March 2007.

  • The changes provided in the document could significantly alter current land management practices.
  • The government is looking to implement some of these policies and actions immediately.
  • For these reasons it is important for those involved in both the forestry and agricultural sectors to make a submission.

Phillips Fox has changed its name to DLA Phillips Fox because the firm entered into an exclusive alliance with DLA Piper, one of the largest legal services organisations in the world. We will retain our offices in every major commercial centre in Australia and New Zealand, with no operational change to your relationship with the firm. DLA Phillips Fox can now take your business one step further − by connecting you to a global network of legal experience, talent and knowledge.

This publication is intended as a first point of reference and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to any particular circumstances and no liability will be accepted for any losses incurred by those relying solely on this publication.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.