East Coast landowners are welcoming recommendations by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment that native bush be encouraged to regenerate to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
“We have identified huge economic potential in manuka, kanuka and other indigenous species” said Ruatoria based Panapa Ehau. “Native plants are better for the climate, better for biodiversity and better for erosion control.”
Mr Ehau is helping organise a series of carbon farming workshops at the end of November. “We hope the workshops will show landowners the environmental benefits of allowing our whenua to revert to natives and ways to make that process financially beneficial too.”
“The science is clear, planting millions more trees is the best plan to capture greenhouse gases. After fifty years of growth, one hectare of mānuka and kānuka will have accumulated about 320 tonnes of carbon dioxide.”
“The PCE report is very compelling in putting the case for native reversion as opposed to pine forest. We know the forestry industry make claims about their trees saving the planet, and while it is better than just grass, most of the carbon captured is released again and more land needs to be planted every year. If New Zealand wants to keep farming sheep, beef and dairy then retiring land to natives is a much more sustainable option.”
A coalition of Ruatoria residents, businesses and hapu groups are working on plans for a tissue culture laboratory and commercial nursery in the town to meet the demand for native trees as the government-funded Erosion Control Funding Programme and Afforestation Grants Scheme help landowners with the costs of planting.
Mr Ehau said this development will support local economic development through employment and compliment plans for Ruatoria to become a centre for innovation in bioactive plant extracts as well as soil conservation and water remediation using indigenous species.