Large increase in NZ forestry land purchases

Friday 4 Nov 2022

Research commissioned by New Zealand’s Federated Farmers and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has found 54 percent of New Zealander's support a limit on the amount of fossil fuel emissions that can be offset with new pine forests. Meanwhile, almost two thirds of Kiwis oppose foreign companies buying New Zealand farms to offset their emissions.

The findings by Curia coincide with the release of a new independent report by Orme & Associates, commissioned by B+LNZ, which shows more than 52,000ha of land was purchased by forestry interests in 2021, a 36 percent increase on the previous two years, and up from 7,000ha in 2017.

This is far more than the 25,000ha a year of exotics that the Climate Change Commission has suggested are needed to achieve New Zealand’s climate change objectives. B+LNZ is forecasting significant economic damage to New Zealand’s red meat sector, rural communities, and the economy as a result of the conversion of productive land into carbon farms.

Of the 175,000ha of land purchased for afforestation over the last five years, about 134,500ha is grassland suitable for planting in forestry. If 100 percent of this suitable land was planted, B+LNZ expects this would lead to a decline of around 1 million stock units, equating to an annual farm production loss of NZ$170 million at the farm gate and a cumulative production loss of NZ$540 million from progressive planting from 2017 to 2022.

Downstream from the farm gate a further 44 percent of value is added from processing which at 2021-22 export prices equates to lost export receipts of NZ$245 million annually and NZ$775 million from progressive planting from 2017 to 2022.

“We have been tracking whole farm sales data on a regular basis and we’re increasingly alarmed at the scale, pace, and style of land use change across the country,” says Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ. In 2017, only 7,000 hectares of sheep and beef farmland was sold with the intention to convert into forestry, so the jump to 52,000 hectares in 2021 is a hammer blow for our farmers and our sector”.

“B+LNZ supports the integration of exotic and indigenous forestry within farms. It can provide a win-win in helping New Zealand meet its climate change commitments while also continuing to support food production, underpinning vibrant rural communities and ensuring ongoing export revenue critical for New Zealand’s economic wellbeing.

“However, the scale of change is far in excess of what is needed, and the Climate Change Commission agrees with us on this. This will have significant long-term implications for rural communities and the wider New Zealand economy.”

The Curia research also showed that 61 percent of people support greater incentives to plant native forests over pine trees – this is something B+LNZ is pushing for as part of better recognition of sequestration under the Government’s proposals for pricing agricultural emissions and would better enable the integration of trees on farms.

More >>

Primary Industries Issues Poll October 2022

Orme and Associates summary

Comment from Fish & Game

• Further coverage of the B+LNZ release, click here

Source: Beef + Lamb New Zealand

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