Climate cash won't make up for billions lost from exotic trees - Māori Forestry Association

By Wena Harawira

The government is looking at new economic opportunities in forestry to reduce carbon emissions, but it hasn’t pacified Māori forestry owners.

This year’s Budget has tagged $145 million for afforestation that develops ‘carbon sinks’ to soak up carbon in the atmosphere. Another $111 million will be spent on improving natural, long-term carbon storage; and $91 million will help move the forestry sector away from using fossil fuels.

But iwi forestry owners are still concerned about a government proposal to cut carbon credits for exotic trees as part of the emission trading scheme.

The value of carbon credits has doubled to $80 a unit in the last year, and the government wants to control any increase in exotic forests.

It’s proposing to shift carbon credits for native forests only affecting Māori forestry interests.

The chair of the Māori Forestry Association, Te Kapunga Dewes told 1News of the 1,6 million hectares of land owned by Māori, 80% is marginal, erosion-prone and ineligible for loans or mortgages. Forestry and carbon credits provided crucial income for Māori Trusts.

At a post-Budget breakfast hosted by Labour’s Māori ministers in Auckland, Meka Whaitiri said the proposal was still in consultation phase and that the Māori caucus was working closely with the Minister of Forests Stuart Nash.