Sea of pines needed to balance budget
Wednesday 16 Oct 2019
With a frown, Canterbury University forestry professor Dr Euan Mason clicks away, looking for the graph he presented at the August conference of the Institute of Forestry.
Sure, the Government is promising its One Billion Trees programme is going to be all about "the right tree in the right place".
But is anyone really looking at how much new carbon forest New Zealand is going to need to meet its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and Zero Carbon commitments, Mason asks?
Forget the talk about pretty native bush projects – all tui and t?tara. That will be the fringe stuff, he says. Bush is too expensive to plant and too slow- growing. It can't fulfil the looming 2030 and 2050 carbon targets.
The reality is New Zealand is giving itself little other choice than to plunge into a mass planting of commercial tree crops – the conversion of perhaps a couple of million hectares of open farmland into wall-to-wall Pinus radiata.
Big blocks of carbon sink that will not only lock up productive land, stopping it earning export dollars, but which in many cases will be remitting their carbon earnings – effectively a tax on New Zealand emissions – to a foreign pension fund or some other off-shore investor.
Mason shakes his head over the illogic of it. But – tap, tap – he has found the file. On his screen, he brings up a plot of the amount of wood the Government must grow to reach net zero on climate gas emissions by 2050.
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