Beef + Lamb New Zealand says the Ministry for the Environment’s report Net emissions and removals from vegetation and soils on sheep and beef farmland is valuable because it recognises there is significant sequestration happening on sheep and beef farmland in New Zealand and is part of an ongoing process to build understanding of this important issue.
Chief executive Sam McIvor says B+LNZ stands by the AUT research it commissioned that arrived at different figures, but the numbers are not the focus.
“We absolutely stand by Dr Case’s independently reviewed robust and credible research. While there are differences in some of the methodologies MfE used in their report – particularly their netting-off of all harvested forest that doesn’t take into account the replanting and additional new planting we know is happening – it reinforces the importance of on-farm sequestration.
“What is encouraging is that MfE’s report recognises there is significant sequestration happening on sheep and beef farmland. Even using a highly conservative approach, they’ve arrived at a figure of a 33 percent offset of on-farm emissions by vegetation, which shows farmers are well on the journey no matter who is crunching the numbers. This sequestration is on top of the 30 percent reduction in absolute emissions that sheep and beef farmers have made since 1990.
“MfE’s figure of 33 percent is also sequestration primarily derived from the 1.4 million hectares of native forest on sheep and beef land, which is hugely significant as farmers are currently unable to get most of this recognised in the Emissions Trading Scheme. Our aim all along has been for sheep and beef farmers to be recognised for the sequestration happening on their land. If farmers are to face a price for their agricultural emissions, it’s only fair they get credit for their action already taken to date on greenhouse gas emissions, such as reductions and sequestration.
“We’re committed to working with Government, iwi and sector groups on the He Waka Eke Noa process, particularly, to formalise this recognition.”
Mr McIvor says the recent Climate Change Commission draft advice to Government highlighted the important role native forest should play in New Zealand’s response to climate change.
“The Climate Change Commission is recommending moving away from large scale exotic forestry, to encouraging the integration of native forest within farms, which B+LNZ supports. MfE’s report also highlights the need for farmers to get recognition of what is already there.
“This is a relatively new area of research. Dr Case’s report was the first time anyone had attempted to measure the sequestration happening on farm. We’ll keep advocating for a farm-scale view of emissions and sequestration, as well as encouraging our farmers to keep up their great work protecting and enhancing their landscapes. This isn’t just about carbon offsetting – native vegetation, in particular, provides other important ecosystem services such as enhanced biodiversity, soil conservation, and improved water health outcomes.”
As another contribution to the discussion, Mr McIvor says B+LNZ will soon release new independent research into the amount of planting/replanting that has occurred across New Zealand over the past few years.
About the different methodologies
B+LNZ notes there were different approaches used between MfE’s and AUT’s reports and that the reports had very different purposes from the outset. Key points about the different methodologies:
- MfE’s report included emissions from harvesting and land clearance without factoring in replanting, where the AUT report focused only sequestration from existing vegetation and biological emissions. This could be an area of further analysis, including the scale and effect of replanting of harvested forests.
- MfE used different mapping approaches to estimate what forest was present on sheep and beef farms. B+LNZ will continue to advocate for more granular information about the scale of planting on sheep and beef farmland and ultimately farm-scale analysis, to be employed.
- MfE’s report discounted small blocks of planting throughout sheep and beef farmland, including shelter belts and riparian planting. B+LNZ disagrees with this approach as our understanding is smaller blocks of vegetation within a farm are, across the sector, significant.