Topics: Land, Politics

Marginal and erosion-prone land target of carbon trade scheme

By Talisa Kupenga

A new Māori-led carbon-trading company wants to utilise communal Māori land to plant trees and reap millions of dollars. Māori Carbon Foundation wants to partner with landowners and share profits 50-50 starting with land in Kaikoura.

Māori Carbon Foundation plans to unlock millions from marginal and erosion prone land starting with quake-stricken Kaikoura.

Chairman Sir Mark Solomon says, "the proposal that we’re offering is a full profit share in carbon farming. They put up the land, we do the planting the insurance and the management of the forest."

Associate Forestry Minister Meka Whaitiri says "I welcome any proposal that's not only going to help Māori utilise their land but get an economic benefit."

Trees would be an exotic-native mix. Landowners could expect their first share of profits after seven years once start-up costs were covered. 

Sir Solomon says "it is far better if there is a mixture between indigenous and exotic to get the reasonable returns. The other factor that goes with the native plants is that the seedlings are about four to five times more expensive than what the exotics are and that's just the reality of it."

The scheme would start with 150,000 hectares and aim to expand across the country.

Whaitiri says "that's 150-million trees which is clearly something this coalition government is keen to see it contributes to our billion tree programme over ten years."

National’s Māori Development spokeman Nuk Korako says "that's a big number but I think looking at the whole process one of the major issues I think they're going to encounter is where are the trees going to come from?"

Hone Harawira is among board members and Dame Tariana Turia will Chair a Trust to help deliver social benefits to local communities.