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Native tree planting can dig landowners out of climate crisis

Right now, there is an opportunity to better recognise the investment of farmers, landowners and the guardians of our native forests.

This week’s release of the Climate Change Commission’s report: Ināia tonu nei: a low emissions future for Aotearoa recommends a comprehensive national programme to establish more native forests.

The report acknowledges New Zealand has the balance between exotics and natives wrong.

It highlights the massive economic, social and cultural value in increasing New Zealand’s native biodiversity and it tells us we need a new mix of incentives if an ambitious native planting programme is to take root.

I believe all landowners should be able to make an income from native planting and the regeneration of their land. This is particularly relevant for Māori.

At Trees That Count, we are advocating investment options independent to the ETS that provide an income to landowners who choose to plant natives over exotics.

We know many in our rural communities are desperate to put paid to pine. Which is why we are reaching out to investors committed to redressing the economics between pine and natives to further develop the concept of biodiversity credits.

Our decision to back the development of a biodiversity credit was born out of a mutual frustration felt by Trees That Count, and the many people we meet in business, who are using NZ Units as proof of goodwill, despite not participating in the ETS.

Trees That Count wants to encourage corporate investors to look beyond ETS credits as proof of impact and enable them to better realise the many benefits that natives bring, above and beyond carbon value.

There are more seats at this table for people committed to supporting the next generation of New Zealand landowners to not only meet our net zero targets but maintain them into the future.

The concept recognises investors need to be able to demonstrate proof of impact with a market-based mechanism where units of value are created and eventually traded or sold.

We want to see policy settings that give people planting native trees proof of their investment and in turn celebrate the biodiversity gains they are financing.

A tool such as a biodiversity credit would ensure all tree planting counts – on every measure with a credit acting as an inset for landowners against their own emissions profile.

Investors are making decisions today, based on the best options available, that will impact New Zealand’s unique environment for generations to come.

They are wise to the fact volunteer planting projects and small sponsors have limited impact. Even the 725,000 trees funded through the Trees That Count marketplace, a mighty achievement, is less than 250 hectares of planting.

We are ready to partner with people who want to make strategic investments to connect goodwill to action. We have the digital and social infrastructure that is needed to connect investors with native planting projects at scale.

If we are serious about supporting our landowners to transition to net zero we can’t wait on Government to get behind them.

To increase native tree cover across Aotearoa and preserve New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity we need to act now. Contact us to find out more.


Adele Fitzpatrick

CEO, Trees That Count