NZ's land use conversion
New Zealand is currently facing the largest land use conversion since dairy - possibly even since settlers arrived. The price of carbon in the Emissions Trading Scheme is now around $85/tonne. For the first time, it is more economical for landowners to permanently plant pines for carbon credits than to use land for most traditional farming in New Zealand.
Recently, the government backtracked on its proposal to stop exotic forests from receiving carbon credits due partly to the large financial impact on Maori forestry land, a scheme thought to be worth $800m to Iwi. The decision was also influenced by the fact that restricting supply in the ETS would put more inflationary pressure on the economy. The impact of this decision is a rapid increase in mass exotics planting, bringing ecological and environmental risks. Carbonz's solution is to increase the supply of native carbon credits, both NZUs and voluntary credits. If landowners are given access to voluntary credits for their regenerating native forest, there is less incentive to plant exotics for carbon farming. Similarly, if we can distinguish between native and exotic NZUs, a premium can be earned for natives (due to their biodiversity and cultural benefits). In turn, this would incentivise the expansion of native forests over exotics. Last month we saw a Country Calendar episode where a family had to cut natives to plant pines for carbon due to financial pressure. This is the outcome our current system is incentivising. If this family had access to voluntary carbon credits for their regenerating native forest, it is likely their actions would have been different. Head to Carbonz to support New Zealand native forest planting and reforestation, and help prevent Aotearoa morphing into one big (boring) pine forest!