Forest owner pledges 20% of NZ's climate target

Friday 14 Feb 2020

 
One of New Zealand’s largest forestry owners will plant 120 million trees to meet 20 per cent of New Zealand’s 2030 Paris climate commitment Agreement targets for carbon reduction, the Environment Select Committee was told in Wellington earlier in the week.

New Zealand Carbon Farming (NZCF), a locally-owned company which has nearly 73,000 hectares of forest in New Zealand, told the Committee that minor settings changes to the ETS will enable it to invest in an additional 100,000 hectares of planting. Under the Paris Agreement, New Zealand must make 178 million tonnes of carbon reductions in the next ten years. NZCF’s programme will deliver 36 million tonnes of that target.

NZCF managing director Matt Walsh says New Zealand must show leadership on the climate emergency by taking real and concrete action to reduce emissions. “Delivering 178 million tonnes of carbon reductions in the next ten years will require major commitment to strategies that are proven and effective, now – we can’t afford to wait for a magic bullet as this target looms closer,” says Matt Walsh.

“This will take real leadership on the part of both the Government, and local businesses and communities. That’s why we’re making the largest emissions reductions pledge ever made by a New Zealand company, to deliver 20% of New Zealand’s climate commitments.” NZCF told the Environment Committee that its pledge, which the company will meet entirely through private funding, will do more than provide an increase in permanent carbon forests in New Zealand.

“Our planting programme alone will create 2,000 new jobs in rural New Zealand – in regions that are crying out for investment,” says Matt Walsh. “We are also leaders in the science of forest regeneration – a technology we’d like to see recognised in climate legislation. We actively manage our forests to return them to a native state, managing succession and speeding up regeneration to create an indigenous, biodiverse forest.”

“We have also seen the potential for a wide range of complementary businesses, from honey to adventure tourism, to establish alongside our forests, creating business and employment opportunities for regional economies.” Mr Walsh says the selection of land for new planting is also very important to the success of the programme.

“This programme isn’t going to have any effect on the availability of productive farmland. We only plant on the most marginal land – areas that are hard to access, erosion prone and with no other productive purpose. And the amount of land we need to meet this legacy is tiny. By planting less than half of 1% of marginal land – we will achieve 20% of New Zealand’s emissions target.”

NZCF has the proven ability to deliver on the pledge. Over the last 10 years, the company has reduced New Zealand’s emissions by 19 million tonnes. “Our forests are currently the engine for New Zealand’s carbon reduction programme, storing 4.5 tonnes of carbon per minute – every minute of every day. To-date, we have achieved the equivalent of taking every car off New Zealand’s roads for a year.”

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