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Proposed Field Measurement Approach for Carbon Assessment in Post-1989 Forests

The New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has released a draft document outlining a proposed Field Measurement Approach for the NZETS

Click here for MAF Consultation Document October 2010

Click here for MAF technical guide October 2010

Highlights of the proposal include:

  • Indigenous and Exotic categories both requiring permanent sample plots
  • A threshold of 100ha per Participant (as opposed to forest – a participants total forest area is added to establish the threshold)
  • Sub 100ha must use a look up table they cannot opt for measurement
  • The sample plots are to be measured at least once every 5 year commitment period with the first measurement required before the end of 2012
  • The number of plots ranges from 30 to 200 on a sliding scale for 100ha to 10,000ha and above respectively
  • The methodology and measurements for each plot are specified. The resultant data is sent to MAF.
  • MAF provides each forest owner with customised look up tables at no charge
  • The forest owner uses these tables for an emissions return
  • Costs are estimated at least $200 per plot to carry out the work. MAF recommend using a registered forestry consultant.
  • The sample plots are located from a grid the baseline from a random GPS coordinate in the forest.
  • How CAA and the plots interact appears complex
  • Plots that are located in areas not practical to measure may be relocated by permission of MAF Chief Executive

 

Commentary

The expected threshold was 50ha so it is gratifying that the number is 100ha. However given the total is by participant this does create significant potential issues with say 5x20ha forests – where are the 30 plots located and whether the objectives in that case would be met using the method suggested.

Owners with several forests in differing entities are not subject to the associated persons rules.  For those with PFSI and NZETS forest the areas are not aggregated in assessing the threshold of 100ha.

The cost could be significant to those opting in to preserve their rights.

It could be argued with relatively few participants to date that these costs would discourage more participation from the forest sector. The negative is the risk of not opting in, the benefit to existing forest owners is reducing the NZU supply.

Locating plots on a random basis with no regard to access or health and safety issues seems naïve but the waiver provisions would presumably be exercised with discretion. MAF approach to date with the ETS would indicate a common sense approach will prevail.