Update on recent advocacy: sequestration, biodiversity and forestry

// Climate Change

We’re encouraged by the Government’s announcement about sequestration as part of ag emissions pricing. However we’ve called on them to shelve biodiversity decisions and for a review into the impact of its environmental agenda on farmers and rural communities. We’ve also made a submission on proposed carbon and plantation forestry rules.

trees on farm

Here’s a summary of these three important issues – they’re just some of the areas B+LNZ is advocating hard for farmers in. 

Reaction to Government announcement on sequestration

On Wednesday the Government made an announcement about sequestration as part of an agricultural emissions pricing package. 

We issued a media release saying the sheep and beef sector is very encouraged by the announcement, because it indicates the Government has listened to B+LNZ, industry groups and farmers’ feedback and recognised the importance of all genuine sequestration being recognised from 205. 

B+LNZ Chair Andrew Morrison said: “While there are details to work through, we understand there is a willingness to work on the basis of what was originally proposed by the agricultural sector on sequestration while the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is expanded and improved, which we welcome. 

“The devil, however, will be in the detail. This is such an important issue to our farmers that we have to get it right.”

Biodiversity rules and wider environmental regulation

This week we sent out a media release on the National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity – a deeply flawed proposal that we’ve been raising concerns about since it was initially put forward in 2019. 

In the release, we note that we understand the Government intends to make final decisions soon about the NPS for Indigenous Biodiversity. We think this is a mistake and have urged the Government to stop and take stock of what it’s trying to achieve. 

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the NPS for Indigenous Biodiversity is just the latest in a succession of rushed, poorly thought out regulation – also including freshwater and climate change –that will have economic impacts far in excess of what’s needed to achieve the desired environmental outcomes.

“We’ve been calling for changes to the draft policy for the last couple of years. Leading biodiversity experts like Professor David Norton agree with B+LNZ that the definition of a Significant Natural Area is much broader than it needs to be and will tie up productive land in red tape and compliance and not achieve positive biodiversity outcomes.

“Around the world, many Governments have been adjusting their reform agendas in light of the need to ensure their economies successfully recover from COVID-19. 

“Instead, this Government appears hell-bent on delivering on its change agenda no matter what the cost to our people, rural communities and wider New Zealand.”

The cumulative effect of flawed policies is significant. That’s why we’ve demanded an urgent review of the financial and social impacts of the Government’s environmental agenda on farmers and rural communities. 

“The Government needs to stop, listen to feedback and fundamentally change key policies before it’s too late,” McIvor says.

Read our media release on biodiversity here

Submission on proposed new rules for carbon and plantation forestry

B+LNZ has published its submission, in partnership with Federated Farmers, on the Government’s proposals for new rules for carbon and plantation forestry. 

This is part of our ongoing work with Feds to address shared concerns about the unsustainable spike in carbon farming and blanket afforestation that threatens jobs and has wider social and cultural impacts for our sector and rural communities. 

The proposals were included in a consultation on the National Direction for Forestry, including updates to the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) and they floated some new ideas on managing the social and economic impacts of forests.  The consultation ran from 28 October to 18 November. 

The consultation’s main aims included getting feedback on their proposals to: manage the environmental effects of all exotic carbon forests; control the location of afforestation (plantation and exotic carbon) to manage social, cultural and economic effects; and improve wildfire management in all plantation and exotic carbon forests.

In our submission, we supported the Government’s proposals to make carbon forestry meet the same standards as plantation forestry. We also encouraged the use of national rulesets to make sure the economic, cultural and social impacts of new forest plantings are effectively managed. 

We still think more detailed work needs to be done, however, and significant changes made to the forestry settings in the NZ ETS – including limits on the amount of offsetting fossil fuel emitters can do instead of reducing their emissions. 

We think that trying to manage the ‘effects’ of forestry and carbon forestry without addressing the core driver of the increased planting we are concerned about is unacceptable and bad governance.

Read the B+LNZ and Federated Farmers joint submission on the proposed forestry rules here (PDF, 7.57 MB).