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Biodiversity critical in emissions trading scheme

22 August 2008 - Wellington

Forest & Bird

Biodiversity critical in emissions trading scheme

Forest & Bird urges Labour, New Zealand First and the Green Party to agree to a biodiversity standard in the Government's emissions trading scheme.

"It is essential that our native forests and bush are protected," Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says. "It would be crazy to allow people to get carbon credits by destroying indigenous vegetation and planting pine trees when the vast majority of New Zealand's carbon is stored in our native forests, scrublands and tussock grasslands.

"The key reason we need an emissions trading scheme is to protect the environment from the impacts of global warming. We should make sure that the medicine does not kill the patient," Kevin Hackwell says. "It would be an easy matter for the legislation to protect native vegetation and its stored carbon."

The Green Party is asking New Zealanders for their views on whether the party should accept compromises on the emissions trading scheme, and will make a decision on Tuesday.

* A total of 93% of New Zealand's vegetative carbon is in our native forests, scrublands and tussock grasslands:

Table 1. Overall estimated contribution of different land uses to New Zealand's total carbon stores. Vegetation classes (000 ha) Carbon %of total reserve (Mt) Cropland and pasture systems Total

7490 22.7

0.9% Exotic forest dominated systems Total 1335 127.2 5.2% Tussock grassland systems 3269 64.8 2.7% Scrub dominated systems Total 6182 186 7.7% Native forest dominated systems Total 7125 2010 83 % Total for Miscellaneous 373 6.9 0.2% Total for New Zealand 26 730 2420 Adapted from: K. R. Tate, D. J. Giltrap, J. J. Claydon, P. F. Newsome, I. A. E. Atkinson, M. D. Taylor, R. Lee (1997).

Organic carbon stocks in New Zealand's terrestrial ecosystems, Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Volume 27, Number 3, pp 315-335. While the detailed numbers presented here may have altered since the 1997 publication because of changes in land use and greater understanding of carbon stores in different vegetation types, the overall gross differences between the main vegetation classes will be very similar.


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