The Native Forest Coalition representing the Environmental Defence Society, Pure Advantage, Rod Donald Trust, the Tindall foundation, Project Crimson, Dame Anne Salmond and Dr Adam Forbes, has released a policy statement and recommendations on native forests, highlighting the urgent need to halt the rapid proliferation of pine plantations driven by high carbon prices and short-term policy settings. The Coalition strongly favours prioritising native forestry over exotics and argues that before seeking offshore carbon forest credits, government should invest in native forests, for their myriad of benefits, at home.
The Coalition’s concerns are summarised in the policy statement below:
“In tackling the climate change crisis, there’s an urgent need to move away from short-term thinking and siloed government policy. We need a shift towards joined-up strategies that also address the biodiversity crisis, the degradation of waterways and risks to rural communities.
“Siloed thinking about carbon is leading to very poor outcomes, including large-scale establishment of non-harvested exotic carbon forests and unsustainable clear-fell forestry that places ecosystem health at risk.
“We call on the New Zealand Government to immediately prioritize investment in native afforestation over offshore projects. This will accelerate efforts to scale-up our most viable long-term carbon sinks, reverse biodiversity loss, create local jobs and enhance adaptation resilience.
“The Coalition has produced key recommendations to form the terms of reference for an urgent inter-agency strategic review by key government departments, looking at how to better align climate change and biodiversity policies. Urgent action is critically important as carbon prices are driving rapid investment in exotic forestry across our valued landscapes.
“The recommendations range from options that can be implemented now through to medium term actions, all of which are considered critical to addressing the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change. These crises cannot be resolved independently of each other, and the Coalition’s recommendations are not limited to forest carbon.
“Amongst other initiatives, the Coalition seeks an amendment to the eligibility criteria and permanent forest category in the ETS. The ETS is driving perverse outcomes and changes are urgently required to ensure that the current asymmetry of incentives between natives and exotics is addressed.
“The Coalition also advocates the recycling of ETS revenue to fund research into the expansion of native forests and seeks additional funding for strategic pest animal and plant management on private and public land to support large-scale native reforestation, and to stem the march of wildings across the landscape.
“While the Coalition is supportive of efforts to sequester carbon through forestry, we demand an emphasis on permanent native forest carbon sinks. This is urgently needed and will also support terrestrial, water and marine biodiversity, ecosystems, landscapes, and people. Native forests sequester more carbon over a longer duration and have multiple benefits that must be central to decision-making.