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Forestry carbon rights for Maori

Massive investment opportunities, in the carbon futures market, are available to Maori organisations with interests in the forestry sector, said climate change spokesperson for the Federation of Maori Authorities, Jacob Haronga.

“A lot of Maori land is unsuitable for traditional agricultural use, but is eminently suitable for forestry development. The use of newly planted forest to offset carbon emissions adds significantly to the value of what was previously marginal land.

“The current value of the carbon rights on a national basis is thought to be around $1 to $3 billion dollars. There is no reason why Maori should not consider their forestry carbon rights as a commodity to be sold and traded internationally,” said Mr Haronga.

The Federation of Maori Authorities was heartened to see the Budget 2000’s commitment to regional business development and closing the gap between Maori and other people.

“Many Maori organisations have interests in the forestry sector and it is this sector which has the most potential to provide for Maori involvement. From a “closing the gap” and regional development perspective this is great news for Government.

Internationally the establishment of a carbon futures market is gaining momentum. In Australia, trading in carbon rights has already begun, and there is enormous interest in the United States and European countries such as Norway and the Netherlands.

The sale of forestry carbon rights - which would give the purchaser the ability to offset carbon dioxide emissions elsewhere – adds potential value to Maori owned or leased forests.

“For the carbon rights purchaser another advantage is the lessening of the risk which may arise from a government imposed carbon tax regime,” said Mr Haronga.

The tax regime is widely believed to be one option being considered by Government as a means of meeting its commitments to lowering carbon dioxide emissions to 1995 levels under the Kyoto protocols.

A seminar is being held in Wellington next month to discuss the future for carbon emissions in New Zealand, and Mr Haronga is urging Maori land trusts and incorporations to attend.

“For once Maori have an opportunity to be involved at the very beginning of a new area of development. It is vital that they keep abreast of developments and participate in the discussion,” said Mr Haronga.

Ends

For further information:
Jacob Haronga
Federation of Maori Authorities

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