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Environmental Project A Breath Of Fresh Air

Environmental Project A Breath Of Fresh Air For Business

There is top-level backing for an innovative project being launched this week, which brings businesses and landowners together to combat greenhouse gases and green up marginal land.

EBEX21 (Emissions Biodiversity EXchange 21) is a project run by Landcare Research. It details an organisations' use of electricity and fossil fuels, the tonnage of CO2 produced from this, and the hectarage of native bush required to absorb the associated carbon. Businesses contribute to offsetting their greenhouse gas emissions by sponsoring naturally regenerating land, enabling landowners to earn revenue from low productivity land in environmentally sensitive ways. EBEX21 will help New Zealand meet local, national and international responsibilities for the environment.

EBEX21 and its new website will be launched in Wellington on Wednesday. Speakers will include the Minister for Research, Science and Technology, Hon Pete Hodgson; Chairman of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development and The Warehouse founder, Stephen Tindall; the Assistant Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) Helen Beaumont and Landcare Research CEO, Dr Andy Pearce.

EBEX21 Executive Officer Ian Turney says the new project clearly has considerable support from central and local government, and the business community. "Besides The Warehouse, the Department of Conservation, the Ministry for the Environment, and PCE, we're working with Hubbard's Foods, Adventure South, Meridian Energy, Macpac, Snowy Peak and many other businesses, and we're in talks with many councils.

"At the launch, we'll grant the first EBEX21 certificate to the Tourism Industry Association, who have invested in EBEX21 land to cover their CO2 footprint from their 2001 roadshow. The guided tour company Adventure South will get the second certificate- they aim to be greenhouse gas free by 2010. Also, a few days after the launch, the Christchurch-based firm Macpac will plant the first 1500 trees on their offset project in the Port Hills, along with Christchurch City Council staff".

Along with strong early support from business, there has been no shortage of interest from landowners and land managers wanting to offer land for use in perpetuity, for establishing native forests that will not be cut down. "As well as the Christchurch City Council, we've had land offered by the QEII National Trust and DOC, and we are in talks with a wide range of other parties" Mr Turney says.

"We would be pleased to receive enquiries from farmers or any other landowners with low-productivity land that's costing them money to keep from going to bush, and may even include gorse and broom. That sort of land can be taken out of agricultural production for what is effectively a carbon crop, using native forest".

Mr Turney says the focus on native species rather than exotics is crucial. "With natives, we have a long-term vision of helping to restore native insect and bird populations".

And while planting native seedlings is important, EBEX21's main focus will be on the cheaper option of natural regeneration. "While some areas may need native plantings to support reversion to native bush, most will not. Even gorse can be a good nurse to native regeneration seedlings in the right circumstances".

All EBEX21 projects are supported by Landcare Research's extensive work on measured rates of carbon accumulation in native forest, scrub and soils. Landcare Research's science and technology is used in the mitigation of greenhouse gases, assessing emissions, planning restoration work, and in verifying carbon accumulation.

EBEX 21 and its website, which allows visitors to subscribe on line to calculate and manage their own greenhouse gas impacts, will be launched on Wednesday, 29 August, at Victoria University's Old Law Faculty, Lambton Quay, Wellington, at 5.30 pm.

Landcare Research http://www.landcare.cri.nz


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