Trust: Rules stop native forests gaining credits

Wednesday 9 Jun 2021

Buy the hill: 'Depressing and farcical' rules prevent native forest gaining carbon credits - Carbon credits probably won’t help the Rod Donald Trust establish a native forest on the Te Ahu Pātiki land it is buying above Canterbury's Orton Bradley Park. The trust would be much better off financially if it planted a radiata pine forest and started selling carbon credits fairly soon, then felled the plantation in 25 to 30 years.

But that was not the trust’s vision for the 500 hectares overlooking Lyttelton Harbour Whakaraupō, trust manager Suky Thompson said.​ Instead, they would allow a native forest to gradually establish from seeds spread naturally by wind, birds and the like. They did not envisage much, if any, native tree planting at this stage, she said.

This style of reforestation did not sit easily within the recently reformed Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), Thompson and others wrote in a submission to the Climate Change Commission in late March. The ETS rules made it “almost impossible to register naturally regenerating land”, they wrote.

“Even where there are vast areas of regeneration, in the best cases, landowners have been able to register only a few hectares after expensive, intensive and back-breaking work,” wrote Thompson and representatives of the Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury, lines company Orion, Landcare Research,​ Hinewai Reserve,​ Di Lucas​ of Lucas Associates​ and others.

The Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust wants to regenerate native forest on gorse- covered farmland. “It is depressing and farcical to see so much carbon being sequestered in regenerating native forest, with all the biodiversity benefits this brings, being rejected by the Emissions Trading System in favour of pine blocks,” they submitted.

There has been real money in selling carbon credits. Hinewai Reserve on Banks Peninsula has earned more than $1 million selling carbon credits under a previous version of the ETS.

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