THE Opposition has ruled out any expansion or incentives to the forestry industry at the expense of prime agricultural land ahead of its release of a revamped policy for dealing with climate change without an emissions trading scheme.
Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, will unveil the Coalition's new policy for dealing with emissions when parliament resumes on February 2, but is promising to protect prime agricultural land traditionally under attack from encroaching forestry plantations and development as a result of special incentives.
This week's confirmation will help heal key areas of policy difference between the two Coalition parties which have triggered embarrassing public division in the past.
The Liberals have long been in favour of the development of the forestry industry for carbon sink purposes, however The Nationals and The Greens have vehemently opposed the incentives such as tax breaks for carbon sinks because of the threats posed to agricultural production and food security.
Last year, then-leader, Malcolm Turnbull, also backed calls for millions of hectares of land to be planted to trees to help sequester carbon emissions.
The Nationals have twice joined with the Greens and crossed the floor on the issue since late 2008.
This week Opposition environment spokesman, Greg Hunt, confirmed that while their still-to-be-released policy would have encouragement for soil carbon measures and revegetation "it would not provide incentives for foresting over prime agricultural land".
"We are going to make sure prime agricultural land is properly protected and not converted to reforested land," Mr Hunt told the media this week.
The Opposition says it can still meet its commitment to reducing emissions to the same level as the Government has promised, and this policy will not affect that.