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.

RMA simpler


The RMA (Simplifying and Streamlining) Amendment law was passed last night.

If it works as it is intended the time, costs and uncertainties  involved in going through the consent process will be reduced while still ensuring that the environment is protected.

Among the changes are:

  • Removing frivolous, vexatious and anti-competitive objections that can add tens of thousands of dollars to consent applicants
  • Streamlining processes for projects of national significance
  • Creating an Environmental Protection Authority
  • Improving plan development and plan change processes
  • Improved resource consent processes
  • Streamlined decision making
  • Strengthening compliance by increasing penalties and proving for a wider range of enforcement
  • Improvements to national instruments

Public focus has been on the change which means Aucklanders will no longer have to get consent to trim or fell their own trees, unless they are protected, which what happens in most of the country.

As Nick Smith points out:

A flawed assumption by opponents of this law change is that only councils and bureaucrats value trees. And that given half a chance selfish landowners will chop them down.

In essence, this law change is about changing the onus between councils and landowners. At the moment, councils are in the box seat and property owners must seek permission to trim or remove any tree on their property.

What the Government’s amendment bill does is ensure councils consult landowners before putting restrictions on their trees and reflects a greater respect for property rights.

I haven’t noticed treeless suburbs anywhere else in New Zealand where property owners have the right to do as they wish with their own trees.

Trusting people might be a risky concept for people who think councils know best, but surely if the rest of the country can be trusted Aucklanders can too.



This Friday’s poem was chosen for Arbor Day – Trees  by Alfred Joyce Kilmer.


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

      – Alfred Joyce Kilmer –

It inspired this painting by Margot Wethey:

cabbage tree 005

And this from Ogden Nash:

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless the billboards fall,
I’ll never see a tree at all.

Carbon Farming Website


The Carbon Farming Group, a charitable trust funded by the Tindall Foundation has some sobering information for farmers on the impications of the Emissions Trading Scheme.

 I put some top-of-my-head figures in the calculator and discovered that a dairy farm with 1200 cows and 50 hectares of radiata pine would be liable for $46,000 a year.

 A farm with 20,000 sheep and 50 hectares of radiata would pay $ 55,000 a year.

 Cut down the trees and the liability for the dairy farm is $74,100; and $82,500 for the sheep.

 The obvious lesson is to plant more trees, but in an increasingly hungry world replacing pasture with forest is not a sensible strategy. And even with more trees the ETS will impose big costs on farmers, some will have to be absorbed and some will flow on to consumers which will make food even more expensive.

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