Beef+Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) supports the formation of the Native Forest Coalition and says the growing chorus of voices from the farming sector and now environmental NGOs against unchecked carbon farming can't be ignored.
This week, the newly-formed Native Forest Coalition released its policy statement that includes calls for changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) which is driving the large-scale planting of exotic forests for carbon farming, the need for joined-up and long-term thinking across Government policies to tackle climate change, the prioritisation of native afforestation over offshore projects, and the weaving of native forests into rural and urban landscapes.
The Native Forest Coalition is made up of the Environmental Defence Society, Pure Advantage, Rod Donald Trust, the Tindall Foundation, Project Crimson, Dame Anne Salmond and Dr Adam Forbes.
Fish & Game NZ has also now publicly come out in support of the coalition's position.
B+LNZ chief executive, Sam McIvor said it is getting harder for the Government to do nothing about the issues the coalition has raised.
“There are so many voices calling for action. We need urgent solutions now – before too much more damage is done to rural communities and so that we don’t miss real opportunities to protect and enhance New Zealand’s biodiversity."
B+LNZ has been calling for some time for urgent changes to the ETS, to stop the wholesale conversion of productive sheep and beef farmland into carbon farms.
“Like the coalition, we believe there’s a better way – the integration of trees on farms. Farmers know their land best. We’re not anti-forestry – exotic planting can be integrated where appropriate – but it’s about planting the right tree in the right place," continued McIvor.
“Our sheep and beef farms are already home to 1.4 million hectares of native woody vegetation – and land-use changes over the past 30 years have added 2 million hectares to the country’s conservation estate, the largest private sector contribution to biodiversity in New Zealand.
“All this despite the fact that farmers can’t get recognition for much of it under the current ETS rules. There are serious imbalances of incentives for planting exotics versus natives. That’s why we’ve worked so hard to get a wider range of sequestration recognised under the He Wake Eke Noa primary sector climate action partnership options.
“We’ve also repeatedly told the Government they need to take a holistic approach to policy development – across water, biodiversity and climate but also taking into account sustainable food production. That’s the only way to achieve real and lasting environmental outcomes while protecting an important part of New Zealand’s economic health.”