The Waikato Regional Council is developing a regional carbon strategy that could improve the economic returns from marginal land as well as enhance water and soil health.
The concept is for the council to support forestry plantings and natural bush reversion on marginal farm land by acting as a facilitator to match up land owners and investors. The council is in a unique position to facilitate this activity, it has access to the property and land information required to set up and verify compliance with the emission trading scheme, and has a network of land management staff and connections with other rural services providers to provide information to landowners. As a part of the facilitator role, the council has the potential to establish a service to aggregate, register and verify carbon credits from landowners within the region for bulk sales to purchasers.
A similar scheme is currently being implemented in the Taupo catchment area to assist in the goal of reducing nitrogen entering into Lake Taupo and ensure the ongoing health and high water quality of the lake is maintained.
The carbon strategy has the potential to provide numerous economic and environmental benefits to the region. Economically, it could result in substantial investment in the region, have positive impacts on services and suppliers, and lead to an increase in timber resources (not limited to radiata pine), as well as generating revenue from carbon credits to supplement farming returns from traditional meat and wool. This would lead to improved farm surpluses on a number of properties.
Initial analysis indicates that carbon credit returns can make forestry plantings substantially more profitable than pastoral use of marginal hill country. It also can make pastoral use of moreproductive farmland more profitable by removing some direct and overhead costs.
The environmental benefits would be seen in cleaner waterways and more stable soil in steep hill country. These are high priority community goals included in our Regional Policy Statement and Te Ture Whaimana, The Vision and Strategy for the Waikato River.
The Waikato Regional Council commissioned an investigation report to help better understand the impacts of the carbon strategy and make suggestions on its implementation.
You can read or download the report below:
In February 2011, the Policy and Strategy Committe was provided with information on the carbon strategy and updated on the commissioned investigations. You can read the report below:
Find out more about the Emissions Trading Scheme on the MAF website(external link).