Carbon credits working well locally

Wednesday 17 Jun 2020

Rat traps and carbon credits: The native forests offsetting your emissions - Simon Day discovers how the voluntary carbon market allows both individuals and companies to offset their emissions at the same time as investing in native forest regeneration.

When Celia Wade-Brown sold her first batch of carbon credits earned from the native forest on her Wairarapa farm, she had two customers: Z Energy picked up 7,500 credits and her hairdresser, Scout, bought eight. Scout wanted to be as sustainable as possible so it had its annual emissions analysed and measured at 7.5 tonnes of CO2. So Wade-Brown sold it eight credits to offset the business’s environmental impact.

Wade-Brown and her husband bought Duntulm Farm, a former sheep and beef farm in the Mangatarere Valley, in 1987. For the first 20 years, their investment in the regeneration of the native bush was relatively passive and its growth was on the back of the regional council’s pest control. In 2012 they covenanted 99ha of regenerating forest for carbon sequestering. It was when they relocated permanently to the farm in 2017, after Wade-Brown’s tenure as Wellington mayor, that the couple actively invested in the development of the 250 ha block of regenerated native forest and its true potential as a carbon sink and an economic resource.

“We have traps of various sorts to catch rats and mustelids [and] we have started propagating plants that are good for birds. We’ve been on trapping classes,” says Wade-Brown, who was late to our phone call because she’d been out clearing her traps (two rats and a mouse).

So far they have removed nearly a thousand predators. By increasing the biodiversity and protecting the birdlife, the hungry kereru spread the seed and the forest grows. Previously pastoral land is now dense with young kahikatea, totara, manuka, kanuka hebe, and tarata, replenished by the good patch of unlogged forest on the property as a seed source.

“It’s astoundingly different to thirty years ago. It’s all indigenous. The birds and lizards love it. We’re overgrowing the weeds,” says Wade-Brown.

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