Iwi planting deal questions

15 Dec 2009

By Kevin Hackwell
Advocacy Manager

The National-led Government’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) deal with the Maori Party will give access for five iwi to plant trees on conservation and Crown land.

The Government’s proposal to Ngai Tahu and the other four iwi (Waikato Tainui, Te Uri o Hau, Ngati Awa and Ngati Tuwharetoa) is that:

• They establish a single new commercial entity.

• A total area of 35,000 hectares will be made available – preferably all in Ngai Tahu’s rohe. (the location is not yet settled).

• The commercial entity will be given the right to enter a Crown Conservation Contract over the 35,000ha for 70 years. The entity will be eligible for 100% of the ETS’s New Zealand Units (NZUs) earned while the contract is in place (and 100% of any liabilities).

• The commercial entity will be free to decide the level and type of forest management it wants to undertake – with DOC’s approval. Its management approach will have to maintain and enhance existing conservation values of the site and adjoining conservation land. The commercial entity will pay costs for any activity.
• Existing rights of access and restrictions on use will remain for all conservation land involved.

The most likely areas that DOC will be considering is stewardship land (s62) and government purpose (s22 Reserves Act) land.

The Agreed Measures to Address Maori Party ETS Concerns – released when the National-Maori Party deal was announced – says the Crown Conservation Contracts are about carbon farming with indigenous species. The constraints of the Conservation Act and the Reserves Act would make it difficult for exotics to be planted on the conservation estate.

As the iwi will have to carry all the costs of this afforestation proposal, there is an incentive for them to avoid the capital-intensive option of raising natives in nurseries and planting them out. Pest and weed management of naturally occurring regeneration would be much cheaper and possibly quicker.

Forest & Bird would support efforts to encourage and assist appropriate native forest regeneration through pest and weed control or planting. However, Forest & Bird will be vigilant about what finally gets proposed and where it happens. The devil will be in the detail.