ETS: Exotic bombshell a step too far
Wednesday 15 Jun 2022
In an about-face move the New Zealand Government proposes excluding exotic forests from the planned new permanent post-1989 forest category in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
It comes after concern farmland conversion to permanent radiata pine is stripping the country of food producing areas and of jobs for rural communities. Some greet the change with relief but forestry consultant and ecologist Mark Belton, Emerging Forests Ltd, said the proposed policy is dropping a bomb into the heart of NZ’s capacity to remove carbon through afforestation.
Belton submitted to the Government on the managing exotic afforestation consultation in April, and will follow up with letters to forestry minister Stuart Nash and climate change minister James Shaw. He takes issue with relying solely on indigenous species to do the job.
Redwoods, poplars or pines are quicker and cheaper to establish than indigenous species and can help with soil erosion and flooding. They are more efficient at CO2 removal so have a critical role in global efforts to address the pending overshoot, he says.
“They should be able to earn carbon credits.”
The proposal is that only exotic forests destined for harvesting can be in the ETS. Some farms are too far from port or roading is too difficult to make harvesting economic. This cuts farmers’ options.
MPI has floated the idea of including some exotics in the proposed permanent category from January 1, 2023. The consultation suggests space-planted poplars or willows on erosion-prone land, and long-lived exotics like redwoods for amenity purposes or sustainable harvest of high-value timbers, may be included. Plantations transitioning from exotic to indigenous forests over time are also up for debate.
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