ETS 'big opportunity' for farmers
Wanganui hill country farmers have a massive opportunity to use the Emissions Trading Scheme to get a return from their marginal land, Pat Hawinkels says.
"Internationally, the market for carbon is huge and it will just get bigger."
People registering their forests in the Emissions Trading Scheme get money for growing trees, which store carbon.
Registering for the scheme was only complex the first time, he said, and for some the money would keep a marginal farm viable.
Forestry plantings could also yield a return for timber when they were mature.
Mr Hawinkels and Myles Guy share an office in the old post office building in Wanganui's Ridgway St. The sign on the wall says Sustainable Programmes and they work for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).
Both have degrees in forestry science and are convinced that trees on marginal land will be good for New Zealand's environment, its economy and its obligation to reduce carbon emissions.
"The Emissions Trading Scheme creates a new market for another value of trees. It adds value to a quality resource," Mr Hawinkels said.
The two have the job of educating landowners about three ways to be part of the scheme: through own forestry ventures registered with the scheme, through the afforestation grants scheme and through the permanent forest sink initiative.
Most of the take-up is by people doing their own forestry registered with the Emissions Trading Scheme.
A new law has made people with large pre-1990 forests liable to pay tens of thousands of dollars if the trees are cut and not replanted. They stand to gain tens of thousands if the land is maintained in forest. The change has annoyed some landowners, who see it as interference. Others say it creates opportunities.
People with forest planted or land allowed to revert to forest after 1989 have a choice about whether to register for the scheme. Nationally, 667 applicants have registered 136,000ha.
Fewer people are looking to permanently retire land into bush or forest and get money for the carbon stored there. There have only been 38 applications to the permanent forest sink initiative, covering 9241ha nationwide.
The afforestation grant scheme pays people to create new carbon-storing plantings. In return, they forfeit the first 10 years' carbon credits.
The new rules and opportunities around forestry take a couple of hours' talking to sink in. It's the job of Mr Hawinkels and Mr Guy to explain them to landowners in a vast stretch of the lower North Island.
Much of their forestry work is in the Wanganui/ Rangitikei/ Wairarapa districts, where there are lots of privately owned forests.