Farm Foresters getting negative ETS signals

NZ Farm Forestry Association

22 JUNE 2023

Farm foresters are asking the government how it plans to get enough exotic trees planted to store sufficient atmospheric carbon for New Zealand to achieve its greenhouse gas targets.

New Zealand Farm Forestry Association president, Neil Cullen, says the government has stated at least another 0.9 million hectares of forest will need to be planted out to meet its current reduction settings.

“Though there does seem to be such a target at the moment, we have no idea whether the government really intends to stick to it, and what the planting timetable is between now and the zero-carbon date of 2050.”

“There are currently about 300,000 hectares of exotic plantation trees on farms. But I can’t see how that is going to increase much, if at all, when the government continues to send negative messages about forestry in the Emissions Trading Scheme,” Neil Cullen says.

Besides carbon offsets, Neil says there is an urgent need to plant about a million hectares of steep North Island hill country in trees to protect against erosion when intense storms strike.

“About 100 million tonnes of soil slid off the hills along the East Coast when Cyclone Gabrielle struck in February. Without a continuous canopy, this will happen again in the most erodible areas.”

“If the carbon credits dry up then this steep country is not likely to be planted at all, either in quick-growing pines or in native trees.”

Neil Cullen says it is far better for the government to support afforestation in New Zealand, rather than be forced to buy billions of dollars in overseas carbon credits to stop New Zealand from missing its 2030 reduction target.

“There are thousands of hill country farmers who want to do the right thing for the environment by planting trees. We all benefit if that happens. We all lose if they don’t.”

Neil Cullen
National President NZ Farm Forestry Association