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Forest & Bird strongly backs the Government’s suggestion that pine forests should not be counted as permanent carbon sinks in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The organisation says the ETS should instead support investment in native forest and wetland restoration, which will provide much better long-term carbon storage than pines and other exotic trees.

“A native tree planted today could still be sucking up carbon in 800 years, but a pine planted today will likely be dead in 100 years and releasing carbon,” says Forest & Bird spokesperson, Dean Baigent-Mercer.

"The Climate Change Commission told the Government that native forests and wetlands are a much better long-term carbon solution, and Forest & Bird completely agrees. Native forests stabilise land, create resilience in a rapidly changing climate, provide habitat for native species, and overall lock in more carbon for the long term.”

“On the other hand, pines are a fast-growing monoculture that suck up water from flowing creeks, are really flammable, and hardly ever make it to 100 years old. Pines are not a long-term solution for the climate or our native wildlife,” says Baigent-Mercer.

“As well as planting native forests, we must also protect them.”

Forest & Bird has warned the Government that possums, goats, deer, pigs, and wallabies are destroying existing and new native forests, and work to control them must be sped up and coordinated across central and regional agencies.

"Further, the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity will be critical to incentivising the restoration and protection of native forests on privately owned land, yet has been languishing for over three years.

“The solutions to nature-based carbon storage are obvious, and present multiple wins for the climate, the environment, and our communities. It’s time for the Government to get on with putting them in place”.

Key actions the Government should take include:

  • Making sure the ETS is an incentive for permanent native forest carbon sinks.
  • Controlling feral deer, goats, pigs, wallabies and possums to protect young native trees – our future forests.
  • Implementing the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity to protect native habitat on private land.
  • Doubling New Zealand's wetland area by 2050.

Putting in place a native forest restoration programme across all marginal and erodible land with pest control support, financial support for landowners, and restoration of degraded Crown land.

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