New Zealand's primary sector has added steel to the country’s economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recently released report.
Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) says some 70,000 hectares of productive sheep and beef land has already been converted to forestry since 2019, with carbon-related investment, or ‘carbon farming’ as a major driver for this.
However, the wood-industry lobby group Southern North Island Wood Council (SNIWC) disputes these figures, claiming B+LNZ “don't know the difference between regular forestry and carbon forestry”.
“MPI figures are only 22,000 ha of planted trees. Including carbon forests which so far is only about 10% of that,” said SNIWC on Rural News’ Facebook.
SNIWC said carbon farming, a term employed to describe speculators buying up farms to plant trees for carbon credits, was only invented a year ago.
It said that farmers don’t have much to worry about as such investment covers just 1% of new planting in New Zealand, with plantation forests only covering 7% of the country and farming 46%.
The group also claims B+LNZ’s employment figures on forestry are “completely fabricated”.
B+LNZ says for every thousand hectares of sheep and beef farming, 7.5 jobs are created, whereas in forestry, around 2.5 jobs are created and around 0.5 for carbon farming.
SNIWC says the New Zealand Forest Owners Association figures show around 5 workers are employed per thousand hectares of farming, compared to 7 for forestry.
“This does not take into account the sawmills, transport and all other associated industries measuring and using the wood in NZ,” said SNIWC.
SNIWC was responding to an opinion piece written by Rural News titled ‘Rural NZ at risk from carbon investors’.
The piece argues that New Zealand’s rural communities risk being decimated as carbon investors buy up farmland and ever-encroaching pine forests take over more of the country.
“The only "risk" that is implied in the title of this is the "risk" of less pollution. "Risk" of more profits and "risk" of keeping workers employed on the land. B+LNZ refuse to provide back up data, and have no evidence for this,” said SNIWC.