Comment on forestry and climate change
By E. G. Mason and David Evison, July 2009.
The forestry sector makes large direct and indirect contributions to the mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from New Zealand, and its contribution could be even larger if we set the right policy. Forests are a major store of carbon – standing trees, and the organic layer of forest soils are both significant carbon reservoirs.
If the area under forest is increased then the size of this reservoir also increases. New forests sequester extra carbon from the atmosphere as they grow and are therefore carbon sinks. In this way forests can play a significant role in reducing the impact of greenhouse gases on climate change. The rate of carbon sequestration by forests depends on the growth rate of the trees, but planting of new forest, rehabilitation of existing native forest, or allowing scrub or uneconomic farmland to revert to forest are all mechanisms by which sequestration will occur.