Carbon price driving land sales for forestry

Friday 6 Aug 2021

New independent research has confirmed a significant amount of sheep and beef farmland in New Zealand has been converted to forestry, underlining the need for limits on carbon offsetting, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The organisation said the research also busted the "myth" about trees going on unproductive land and reinforced its view that the integration of forestry on farms was a better way of managing landscapes and meeting climate change targets.

The study by BakerAg, commissioned by B+LNZ, reveals there has been a significant increase in the amount of farmland sold into forestry, driven in large part by an increase in the carbon price.

The report was unable to identify exactly how much of the sheep and beef farmland sold into forestry was intended for pure carbon farming, but based on examination of the land titles, it was estimated that about 26,550 hectares of the 77,800 hectares of whole farms sold into forestry since 2017 were to carbon-only entities (about 34 per cent of the whole farm sales).

The report found those 29,500 hectares were from a combination of the plantable area of whole farm sales into forestry and funding to plant exotic trees within farms under two Government schemes. With the Climate Change Commission suggesting the carbon price would rapidly increase, the sector was calling on the Government to work with it, and the forestry sector, on how forestry offsetting can be managed, McIvor said.

He said the Climate Change Commission and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment had also both recently suggested the need for policy changes to limit forestry offsetting. "Without urgent action, the sale of sheep and beef farms into forestry will only accelerate as the carbon price increases, and fossil fuel emitters will continue to receive a 'get out of jail' free card and not change their behaviour.

"This is a critical issue for our sector – as evidenced by its inclusion as one of the seven key concerns in the recent Groundswell-organised farmer protests." The research also analysed the land types of the farms sold into forestry. It found that over 90 per cent of the land within whole farms sold into forestry was of Land Use Capability (LUC) classes 6 and above.

More >>

Read a summary of the report here.

Read the full report here.

In response to the report, Forest Owners says 'afforestation report raises more questions than it answers'. Read more.

Source: NZ Herald, FOA

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