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NZFFA Member Blogs

Member Blogs

Recent blogs:

Me, thee and the PCE

Howard Moore's blog
Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Simon Upton was surprised by my remarks on his address to the March NZFFA conference. He invited me to talk to him, not to congratulate me on my brilliant analysis but to express concern that I might have misunderstood his approach. But it wasn’t really a discipline interview. I understood his approach, and it’s not his fault that I have trouble with some of the implications. 

First, He Waka Eke Noa is working on “recommendations for an appropriate farm level emissions pricing system from 2025” as an alternative to the Emissions Trading Scheme. In short it is designing a stand-alone programme for farmers outside the ETS. Simon might be familiar with the details but since nothing has been released yet, his suggestion of a methane levy was new to me.

It raised the question of equivalence between a methane levy and a carbon price. The methane levy is likely to be set high enough to change farmer behaviour but not so high as to drive farmers off the land. How high that will be, and where it will sit vis a vis carbon under the Emissions Trading Scheme?

Second, a methane levy is another example of an ad hoc climate change policy, of which there is a growing number (e.g. no more coal-fired boilers). While these are understandable, every ad hoc policy makes investment in production forestry more uncertain. 

Although there is general agreement that we need more forests, no-one is addressing the growing body of regulatory risk that puts new planting in doubt. Why expand when there are rising land prices, regulatory uncertainties and potential controls on how much carbon one might claim, after perhaps buying land at full value on the assumption of one credit per tonne sequestered? The commercial forest industry might easily turn its back on the Climate Change Commission and the Government’s expectations for the sector. It’s not obliged to help. 

Third, if He Waka Eke Noa is successful then of course trees on farms will be useful for offsetting methane levies. Assuming it measures the changes in carbon storage from one year to the next (‘delta carbon’), farmers will be able to claim credits on land that was in forest in 1990, even though this is excluded from the ETS. And if those credits are tradable (why not?) prices for this land will jump, and there may be a sudden rush to become farmers. 

Finally, there are 11 agricultural organisations and two Ministries committed to He Waka Eke Noa and 2,400 participants and two Ministries committed to the ETS. I have a mental picture of these two elephants lumbering across the veldt trying to escape a grass fire, while above them circle the Climate Change Commission and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment giving two caws for right and one caw for left. If only I could draw. 


A new Future for NZFFA - How do we present NZFFA to new members?

John Channings' Blog
Wednesday, April 28, 2021

What needs to be done to reinvent the NZFFA organisation into one that attracts new membership and in particular lifestylers?

I think the first priority is to turn the organisation from being an inward looking one to an outward looking one. This distinction would not have made sense in Neil Barr’s time but with the advent of the internet, communicating out into cyberspace is the new game.

Certainly, a modernised website is required as the current one is obviously out of date. 

Within the present website, members can create their own blogs which members have done. But it is a waste as they are hidden inside the website. There are many of them. They get little or no traffic and they dilute any message they try and communicate in their separateness.

A blog is a most useful feature of the internet; it is where in-depth articles can be posted and commented on. But there needs to be only one, that is highly visible and regularly contributed to.

Another feature of a modernised website to consider is the incorporation of a dedicated ‘Discussion Forum’ as exists for many special interest groups on the internet. Such a Forum builds over time a library of participant’s knowledge and experiences and can be a most useful learning resource for tree planters. It could serve as a one stop shop for all the Special Interest Groups within NZFFA and bring their efforts into a coordinated easily accessed place.

I hear you say that we already have a discussion group on Facebook, why do we need another?

In fact, NZFFA has two presences on Facebook; the discussion group that is getting a good number of posts and comments but is a closed group of only 1000. While everyone has arguments for closed groups, I don’t think they apply in this instance as the organisation and its issues need to be aired publicly. By comparison the ‘Permaculture in NZ’ group  has 15,000 members, is public and those 15,000 members would largely be lifestylers. 

The other (main) NZFFA Facebook page is being used mostly to post field days and is getting few comments. There is a lost opportunity here.

A note on Facebook; while I can’t deny its effectiveness or popularity, I do remind you of its limitations. Little in depth dialogue is possible, it is too easy for it to drown in light weight and irrelevant throw away comments which is why I think the Blog and a dedicated and well moderated ‘Discussion Forum’ still are the best carriers of quality educational content and comments. Facebook is mostly an opportunity to tantalise and entertain those with short attention spans.


Disclaimer: Personal views expressed in this blog are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent those of the NZ Farm Forestry Association.

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