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Regional Councillors Concerned About Potential Risks Associated With Carbon Forests

Otago Regional Councillors have resolved to lobby central government regarding concerns about the potential hazards and risks to the environment associated with carbon forests.

Following concerns raised by the public, and a site visit, Councillors and iwi representatives on the Strategy and Planning Committee discussed tree planting for carbon sequestration (carbon forests) during a meeting yesterday.

“Unlike plantation forestry, carbon forests are planted and left in perpetuity,” Councillor Kevin Malcolm said. “As forestry for carbon sequestration is currently a permitted activity in the Otago region, there’s not the same level of maintenance and hazard management expected for forests planted for harvest. This can lead to pest problems, depleted river flow in water-short catchments, and increased fuel loads for bush fires. National policy has created unintended consequences that will have potentially dire environmental consequences.”

“Both Regional and Territorial Authorities need central government support to urgently resolve these issues. Locally, we have a particular concern about activities in the Kakanui catchment and in the Waitaki district”

The Committee resolved to lobby central government to intervene in these matters and to ensure sufficient standards are in place to manage the land use change, impacts and risks associated with carbon forests.

The Committee’s resolution in full:

That the Committee:

1) Receives this report.

2) Notes that staff will pursue the opportunities to manage land uses, including tree planting for carbon sequestration purposes, will be available as part of the development of the Land and Water Regional Plan, which is due to be notified by December 2023.

3) That we note the advice provided on this matter and resolve to:

a. Liaise with affected TAs, regional councils and manu whenua.

b. Lobby Central Government on the general issue of carbon forestry its effects with our regional environment.

4) That Cr Laws, Cr Malcolm and Cr Hobbs report back to the June 2021 Council meeting.

5) That these motions be made public.

Moved: Cr Laws

Seconded: Cr Deaker

Crs Hope, Noone and Scott abstained from the vote due to potential conflicts of interest.

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