Money can grow on trees

B+LNZ is rolling out a series of “Farms, Trees and Carbon” workshops nationally to help farmers understand the financial opportunities available to them from integrating forestry (either pine or native) into their farm. This includes understanding opportunities under the One Billion Trees fund.
Monday, 15 April 2019

This two part-series summarises the information presented at a recent field day which highlights the need to get sound advice before planting to ensure the right tree is planted in the right place at the right time.

Take home messages

  1. It’s looking good for trees.
  2. The NZU price (carbon value) is high and projected to go higher.
  3. Barriers and risks have been removed.
  4. Get advice.
  5. Plan – if you do not plan you will not get your trees planted.

There are significant opportunities available for sheep, beef and dairy farmers to integrate forestry into their business provided they do their homework and get the correct advice.

Speaking at a North Canterbury Farming for Profit field day, farm forestry consultants Ollie Belton and David Janett gave an overview of the emissions trading scheme, the carbon market and how farmers could capitalise on available finding.

They said the price for a NZU – a carbon unit which represents a tonne of CO2 equivalent – had fluctuated over the years, pushed down by bogus units from overseas flooding the market.

But the market has completely changed and the price for an NZU is on the rise, driven by NZ’s need to reduce CO2 levels by 200 million tonnes by 2030. Price stability for carbon is important to reduce Greenhouse Gases.

Forestry, they say, gives NZ the ability to offset its emissions.

To be eligible for carbon credits, the forestry must have been planted after 1990 into land that was not previously in forestry or in native bush. The onus is on the applicant to prove that the land was clear before 1990 and this is something the Ministry of Primary Industries is very strict about.

Ollie says the forest must be at least 1ha, have 30 per cent canopy cover at maturity and be at least 5 metres in height. Trees need to be within 15 metres of each other – so it does not need to be thick plantation forest to be eligible – but the trees do need to achieve 30 per cent canopy cover.

Poplars are eligible – as are shelterbelts so long as they are linked together to meet the definition of a plantation and are at least 30 metres wide. Fifty to 60 trees/ha is fine – as long as the required canopy cover is achieved.

“It’s all about planning, it’s important to understand the rules when planning on-farm planting.”

He recommends taking photos to show that the vegetation being planted into is not native species.

Ollie and David say the eligibility issue is huge and is the most difficult part of the ETS.

B+LNZ workshops

B+LNZ is rolling out a series of “Farms, Trees and Carbon” workshops nationally to help farmers understand the financial opportunities available to them including the One Billion Trees fund. To request or workshop or for more information contact your local B+LNZ Extension Manager.