Building climate-resilient landscapes

 January 2022   
Building climate-resilient landscapes

Nelson has the opportunity to pivot to a 21st Century approach to forestry says carbon management company Ekos’ CEO Dr Sean Weaver, speaking at the public forum for the Nelson City Council meeting on the Adoption of Forestry Activity Management Plan last month.

“Nelson is looking down the barrel of massive risk to ratepayer property and infrastructure from extreme weather events that promise to get worse under a changing climate,” Mr Weaver said.

“We need to build climate-resilient landscapes that do not involve clear-cut forestry on steep hillsides. This means moving away from the 20th Century model of clear-felling in sensitive landscapes.

“Forestry planners now have the advantage of much higher carbon prices that make continuous canopy exotic and native forestry profitable. At Ekos we have been doing this for a number of years and we know it works commercially.”

Nelson City Council is contemplating a decision to continue with the cycle of clear-cut pine plantations on steep Nelson hillsides owned by the Council, whilst also undertaking a review of forestry options for the future. The key is whether the Council locks in business-as-usual forestry plans before the review has been completed.

“If the Council makes a long-term commitment to continue clear-cut pine forestry before a review is completed it will clearly have the cart before the horse,” Mr Weaver said.

“And a review can only genuinely explore all viable options if it is independent and not run by the same forestry company that undertakes forest management for the Council.”

Mr Weaver recently published a paper in the New Zealand Journal of Forestry on the economics of native reforestation carbon forestry and made it available to the Council. It describes how a mix of exotic and native continuous canopy forestry is commercially viable at current and projected future carbon prices.

“When the Council reviewed the carbon economics of forestry in 2016 the carbon price was around $18. It is now nearly $70 and this is a game changer,” he added.

He urged the Council to not close the door on forestry innovation and putting genuine rubber on the road of a climate emergency response by committing ratepayers to living with clear-cut forestry on Council lands for another 30 years.

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