Maori: Opportunity lost if no pine for carbon

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Moves to limit pine would force landowners, Māori to forego ETS cash -The once-unpopular pine tree has received fresh support – particularly from Māori landowners – after the Government moved to limit planting.

In a public consultation, the Government proposed that exotic trees in permanent forests would not be eligible to earn and sell carbon units. This followed rural community protests against farm-to-pine conversions and Climate Change Commission recommendations favouring native forestry over exotics in the long term.

If the proposal holds, only native permanent forests and exotic harvested forests will be eligible to earn carbon units under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Yet farm-to-pine opponents appear to have been comparatively silent during the consultation, while exotic forest proponents including Māori leaders have expressed their strong disapproval of the idea, which would affect the amount of money that landowners could earn on marginal land.

The consultation document highlighted concerns that widespread, lower-cost carbon units from forestry could keep carbon pollution higher. “The resulting increase in the supply of [carbon units] to the NZ ETS from these forests is likely to dampen medium-term carbon prices… This risks curtailing investment and uptake of low-carbon technologies to reduce emissions.”

The proposal will significantly affect the Māori economy. Ngā Pou a Tāne, the National Māori Forestry Association estimates the cost is $7 billion – yet the Government has failed to properly consult its Treaty partner, said Ngā Pou a Tāne chair Te Kapunga Dewes​.

“[The Government] hasn’t talked to us about it. It’s given us five weeks to round everybody up who’s affected by this… And this permanent category was only agreed last year, and now we’re doing it again.”

By sharing the concerns about exotic forests, could ministers have partnered with iwi to find a solution that was workable for everyone?

“Had the Government – and dare I say it’s their obligation – facilitated a conversation in that space then Māori would have absolutely participated. But when the government consults, the most they do is put out a few webinars, without compensation, without resource.”

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Source: Stuff news

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