New Zealand Farmers Push Back Against Afforestation Plans

A group of New Zealand farmers is trying to raise $45 million (NZD) (£25m) to purchase a large North Island farm, or station, from being purchased by overseas investors to prevent it from potentially being turned into a carbon forest.

New Zealand is the only country that allows 100% offsetting of fossil fuel emissions within the emissions trading scheme. In comparison, the report states that the EU allows 10% forestry offsetting, while the state of California only allows 8%. Business and farmers want the New Zealand Overseas Investment Act to limit overseas investments in forestry to prevent foreign companies from taking advantage of New Zealand’s regulatory loopholes.

The 5000ha Mangaohane Station is a livestock farm which produces 26,000 lambs annually and is owned by a family that previously sold Huiarua Station to overseas investors to be converted into forestry. According to Land Information New Zealand, almost 12,000ha of productive beef and sheep grazing land had been approved for sale to overseas investors in the past four months.

Most of the Mangaohane Station landmass is expected to be converted into permanent forestry, including one sale to a foreign company that specializes in selling carbon credits to gas and oil companies. Over the past three years, afforestation sales have amounted to more than 40,000ha annually, and approximately 175,000ha have been sold for afforestation since 2017. The sales have resulted in an estimated decline of 1m units of beef and sheep, according to a recent Orme Associates report.

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