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Forest Owners Says IPCC Doesn't Back Anne Salmond

The Forest Owners Association says highly qualified reservations in the latest International Panel on Climate Change report, do not back anthropologist Anne Salmond’s claims that New Zealand should switch exclusively to native trees for its carbon sequestration offsets.

FOA President Phil Taylor agrees that the IPCC report has generalised reservations about countries having an overreliance on forest carbon sequestration, in part because of uncertainty in measuring sequestration rates. He says Forest Owners share this view.

“But Dame Anne wants a solution which makes this problem worse. Sequestration in our native trees is extraordinarily slow, hugely expensive, highly variable, uncertain, unknown and would take vast areas of farmland.”

“Wholesale abandonment of New Zealand using pines as a medium-term bridge to getting to a carbon zero economy by 2050 is highly dangerous.”

“Of course, New Zealand needs to quickly and drastically drive down all greenhouse gas emissions. But the huge technical scope and cost of this reduction absolutely needs offset backup through fast-growing exotic forests at the same time.”

“Dame Anne is also quite wrong in her claims of a ‘pine monoculture’. Production pine plantations will support much more indigenous biodiversity than a ryegrass and clover pasture. There is good science to support transition to native trees in pine forests over time.”

But Phil Taylor emphasises that the critical factor in combating climate change is the constantly reducing time available to arrest irreversible climate warming.

“That is way and above the key message in the IPCC report. We are running out of time. Even sequestration from pines, and other fast-growing exotics, takes the best part of 20 years before the volumes of carbon locked up become appreciable.”

“Indigenous forests, for all their natural biodiversity, cultural values and long-term potential as high-quality timber producers, are not going to lock significant carbon in any of our lifetimes – no matter how much we would wish that to happen," Phil Taylor says.

“A particularly poignant and relevant comment was made by Dr Helen Adams, a New Zealander and a lead author of the report, when she stated ‘the future depends on us, not the climate’.”

“New Zealand is well placed with options to meet the challenges of climate change. I’m sure we can find the solutions. We need to act quickly, act on sound technology and science and base our measures on local circumstances.”

“When the government issues its Emissions Reduction Plan in May, we’ll have a clear target to aim for. At the moment, we only have a budget recommendation of an additional 380,000 hectares of exotics to be planted by 2035. That’s only 13 years away – nothing in forestry terms.”

“I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar on the recent Yule Report on forestry this morning. The whole diverse range of other land user representative groups, including Māori stakeholders, discussed the effects of forestry on rural communities.”

“While a few still strongly dispute the benefits of forestry, it was clear that all the main land users appreciate the risk of climate change. That is the real challenge ahead of us," Phil Taylor concluded.

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