Forestry and farming: No conflict necessary

Wednesday 26 May 2021

 
A forest industry leader wants to change the Otago Regional Council’s views on carbon forest management. Last week, councillors voted to lobby central government for national changes to standards for carbon forestry, following concerns raised by the public over the sale of Hazeldean, a 2590ha farm near Tokarahi, to New Zealand Carbon Farming.

Councillors also visited the site of October’s Livingstone fire, of which carbon forestry was a fuel source.

New Zealand Farm Forestry Association vice-president Howard Moore said he sympathised with the council in its grappling with the question of where forests should go, but there were many misconceptions regarding carbon forests. Carbon forests were important for carbon storage, valuable for ecosystem services and potentially harvestable for timber once climate change was under control, he said.

"Every official report written about managing climate change in New Zealand has promoted the use of forests for carbon sequestration. Planting forests buys us time to find ways to permanently cut emissions from fossil fuels.”

If climate change had not been solved within 50 years, the council’s present anxiety would be somewhat irrelevant, he said.

"And if we have solved climate change, those carbon forests will become very valuable for selective harvesting as steady-state production forests. Any implication that carbon forests were "unmanaged" was naive", he said.

"Every forest owner will want to see their asset increase in value over time, and seek to protect it against pests, diseases, fire and neglect."

Earlier this month, North Otago farmer Murray Simpson called a public meeting at Weston Hall, attracting about 120 people, to discuss the long-term effects of large-scale carbon farming in the headwaters of the Kakanui River.

Those at the meeting cited various environmental worries, as well as concerns that carbon forestry conversions were not subject to the same level of scrutiny as other land-use changes. Mr Moore said it should not be a conflict between forestry and farming.

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Source: ODT



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