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Native forests provide key to ETS success

Forest & Bird says the Government’s plan to use the Emissions Trading Scheme to encourage more native forests is a smart move and will help protect farms, towns and infrastructure from extreme weather events.

A new discussion document proposes changing the Emissions Trading Scheme to encourage the planting of large areas of native forests.

Forest & Bird is pleased the Government recognises the critical role New Zealand’s native ecosystems – and especially our forests – play in both preventing and protecting against climate change.

“Provided it's backed up with industrial, transport and farming emission reductions, encouraging more native forests to suck up carbon is bang-on,” said climate advocate Adelia Hallett.

“Forestry Minister Shane Jones is absolutely right when he says healthy forests are critical to New Zealand’s economy, society and environment, and that all landowners need to be encouraged to plant more.”

New Zealand’s native trees are slow-growing, but store massive amounts of carbon.

“Some 330 million tonnes of carbon are known to be locked up in our native forests now,” said Ms Hallett. “That’s more than 75 years worth of greenhouse gas emissions, and scientists are telling us that it might actually be much more than that.”

“These forests will also protect land, farms, and infrastructure from flooding and erosion. Permanent native forests are key to avoiding the kinds of damage seen earlier this year on the east coast of the North Island.”

Forest & Bird hopes the new forestry rules in the ETS will adequately recognise and reward the planting and restoration of forests and other native ecosystems, which are also good carbon stores.

“Native grasslands, mangroves, oceans, and shrublands are also important carbon stores and help make us more resilient to unavoidable climate change.”

“The natural world is our biggest asset, and our biggest hope for preventing and protecting against climate change, and we need to work with it, not against it. It’s a case of people helping nature, and nature helping people.

“We welcome the Government’s leadership on this, and look forward to talking to Shane Jones about the details.”

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