Carbon farming could beat sheep

A Waikato study has found that carbon credits from trees grown on poorer hills could provide better returns than sheep.

There can be both economic and environmental gains from planting trees on erosion prone land.

At least some of this steep hill country would never have been developed had it not been for subsidies to boost stock numbers although this was neither economically nor environmentally sustainable.

The circle has turned and trees might now produce a better income with a better environmental outcome.

8 Responses to Carbon farming could beat sheep

  1. robertguyton says:

    You sound surprised Ele.
    Those trees would have to remain in-situ to realise their value presumably. I’d love to see woodlands established here in new Zealand and managed the way some are in Europe, where the basic structure of the forest remains intact but elements of the forest are harvested: fruits and nuts, prunings for charcoal production, fungi and so on. This would provide a saleable harvest and work for those who chose to make their living the way people have do for centuries and allow the landowner to continue to claim credits for the growing trees. Sweet chestnuts, imo, have a great future here. However, despite the report, I expect farmers will stick with what they do and run stock on land that should never feel the tread of a hoof.


  2. Farmer Baby Boomer says:

    In other words they are advocating SMPs . I thought we had moved on from sort of thinking.


  3. robertguyton says:

    Andrei – is that code for ‘beware the Dutch’? 🙂

    Carbon credits, yes indeed, but the peripheral benefits of forestry are where the future lies.


  4. JC says:

    “Carbon credits, yes indeed, but the peripheral benefits of forestry are where the future lies.”

    Yes and no. Remember, this is poor land they are talking about, exposed, eroding, poor soils. That limits productive trees to P radiata, eucs, redwoods and the like. Other trees like chestnuts are not viable there and produce too little carbon even on better sites to be economic to farm for credits.

    And if you commit to fast growing trees like radiata you are locked into an eventual clearfell because they age quicker than hardwoods and slower growing trees.

    So the study is about quick growing radiata or fast eucs that can be harvested even earlier.

    You can get away with stuff like oaks and chestnuts on poorish soils on the Volcanic Plateau because you have good rainfall and low wind runs but for much of the country tree crops need to be on good soil, relatively sheltered with good rainfall, ie, the same land where you have higher land uses like dairy. However, there’s no reason why tree crops cant be integrated into shelter belts and groves that cut off the corner of a paddock, boggy areas etc.



  5. robertguyton says:

    Willows have a bright future here imho. There are hundreds of varieties and potential uses for their wood, foliage and other products. Their erosion-preventing property is most valuable as is their use for the production of charcoal – something not yet fully explored here (partially I know, but not fully, make it then bury it – the opposite of for example, digging up Southland lignite (stupid idea that!)).


  6. Cadwallader says:

    I know several farmers who are negotiating for a large wind-farm to be constructed on their properties in the lower North Island. The capital payment for the easement plus the ongoing % of power revenue make their farms better options than if they remain grazed.


  7. […] Carbon farming could beat sheep ( […]


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