Final report [20K PDF]
This project was aimed at helping landowners understand the potential revenues from carbon credits, earned through reforestation. In the first stage of the project, I developed a geographic information system (GIS) tool to model and map values for each land parcel. I used information from Landcare Research, MAF, and other sources as a foundation for the tool. I then linked it to a model of carbon price scenarios to create a Decision Support Tool, capable of evaluating where carbon forests would earn higher profits than other land uses.
In the most recent stage of the project, I conducted workshops with Maori landowners and local authorities in the East Coast region and beyond. The goal was to help inform them about the benefits of native reforestation and the possible revenues they could earn from carbon credits. Feedback from the five workshops and other outreach were quite positive. Some groups decided to use the information to help them respond to opportunities; others intended to use it in future planning. Officers from two District Councils also expressed interest in using the information on a district-wide basis.
In the last phase of the project, I will publish a booklet entitled “Carbon Farming on Maori Land”. The booklet addresses the specific challenges for carbon farming that Maori landowners face. It also describes how they can acquire information useful for land-use planning. The booklet will be distributed to interested parties and made available online.
The "Decision Support for Indigenous Forest Opportunities" project is investigating the potential economic value of carbon sequestration associated with native forest regeneration in the Gisborne District. The Gisborne District is an area characterised by rapid forest growth, which in turn implies high rates of carbon sequestration in forests. Under the MAF programme called the Permanent Forest Sinks Initiative, this sequestration could yield tradable carbon credits that landowners could sell. The sale of these credits could be a sustainable form of income on marginal lands that landowners set aside for native forest regeneration. In addition to these credits, some land may be able to earn revenues from erosion control programs, biodiversity programs, or manuka honey production.
Our project aims to assemble information about these different opportunities and join them in a common spatial framework. We are creating a tool to support landowner decisions about their land use. In our decision support tool, information about eligibility for various programs and the potential value of these incentives is combined in a geographic information system (GIS). For each block of land, landowners will be able to investigate the implications of different price scenarios for carbon and other incentives. Users can generate maps of their own land blocks, showing the expected value of each hectare of land if it were converted to native forest. Landowners and local authorities will be able to examine multiple scenarios to inform their decision about whether or not to engage in or continue forest regeneration.
The goal of this project is to inform landowners about the economic implications of a new source of revenue. By providing objective information about its value, we hope to help landowners maintain or improve their livelihoods, both by avoiding unfavourable contracts for carbon sequestration and by intelligently utilising this option to reduce unsustainable practices. We hope this will help landowners efficiently harness the international market for carbon, while also providing local environmental and social benefits from reduced erosion, higher biodiversity, and more sustainable economic opportunities.