50 Shades of Green

Latest News and Views

Managing Forestry Land-Use under the influence of Carbon

16 February 2022  | Yule Alexander Limited

The rapidly rising price of carbon in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has added a new market driver for land-use change and value. Carbon sequestration coupled with plantation forestry is at present yielding returns significantly greater than sheep and beef cattle farming can provide to farmers. The consequences that are flowing from these economic drivers could fundamentally change the makeup of rural communities and impact medium and long-term export returns.

This Green Paper looks to explain the drivers of this change, explore what, if anything, can or should be done to control these changes, and if so how.

Carbon farming - what is the end goal?

21 September 2021 |  NZ Herald | The Country |  Wairarapa farmer Mike Firth

OPINION: It's a pretty sad day when you sit inside reading an article in a popular farming paper and it's talking about carbon farming. Who would have ever thought we could get paid for air?

I have never written about stuff like this before, but this is starting to piss me off. How is it that you can work your arse off for an industry that you love, only to watch it start to disappear before your eyes?  How is it a company that doesn't even trade in New Zealand can purchase farmland here, and plant it in trees for carbon farming?

The carbon price is now high enough to change land-use sufficiently to blow away sheep and beef, but too low to significantly influence emission behaviours elsewhere

8 Sept 2021  Keith Woodford - Principal Consultant at AgriFood Systems Ltd

OPINION: The concept of ‘carbon farming’ has been around for a long time. I recall carbon farming discussions with my colleagues at University of Queensland back in the early 1990s, but the industry has taken a long time to finally arrive.  Well, it is now here. And it has the potential to overwhelm not only the sheep and beef industries, but also have big impacts on the timber industry.

Foresters have common ground with 50 Shades of Green

Don Carson, Communications Manager for the Forest Owners Association

OPINION: There’s a lot to commend in the 50 Shades of Green submission to the Climate Change Commission on the Commission’s draft recommendations to the government on meeting greenhouse gas emission goals.
50 Shades questions the accuracy of information on forest planting rates. Nobody knows for sure how much exotic forestry is going in with no intention to harvest, but to just use it for carbon credits. Whatever views people may have on this, any debate should be based on accurate numbers.

David Norton on Climate Change

Professor of Ecology and Forestry at Canterbury University.

I have become increasingly concerned with so-called carbon farming, which promotes the use of exotic plantations (usually radiata pine but sometimes eucalypts) to earn quick carbon credits while promising a longer-term transition to natives.

While there is some good science by @adamforbesnz and others to show that we can manage mature exotic plantations to encourage native recruitment, there is no good science to show that we can transition 1000s of hectares of new exotic plantations to mature native forest as claimed by those promoting this approach.

Wairere Newsletter

January 2021 | Wairere Rams

The media and green lobby groups seem to think that the world can be “saved” by not eating meat. This opinion
ignores history. Meat was the original SuperFood. Humans had to strategise well to catch animals which were usually faster and stronger than them. Meat provided better nutrition which grew bigger brains, which then led to improvements in hunting tools and techniques. It was a self reinforcing cycle.

Urban New Zealand - You have been lied to

15 October 2020 |  NZ Herald | The Country

Opinion: Environmentalist and farmer Jane Smith says she wants to make urban New Zealand aware of the true long term costs of "headline-grabbing heroic environmental crusades".

Urban New Zealand you have been lied to. You believed someone had your back, a master plan, a blue print for the future. In its place is a lonely black box. They say the devil is in the detail. There are no details - only hyperbole and headlines.

Farmer's open letter to Jacinda Ardern

4 September 2020 | NZ Herald | The Country

Comment: Last month Rangitikei farmer Andrew Stewart wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about his concerns over climate change and farming. In his follow up letter, he calculates his farm's emissions profile and finds some worrying statistics.

The New Zealand red meat sector’s significant contribution to the country’s national and regional economies has been highlighted in new research.

16 June 2020 | Beef + Lamb NZ

New Zealand’s red meat industry, comprising sheep and beef production and meat and co-products processing and exporting, is a cornerstone of this country’s prosperity.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has reinforced the importance of safe and healthy food production as one of the essentials for wellbeing. Red meat exports are underpinning the New Zealand economy’s recovery and generated $3.1 billion (sheepmeat and beef only, excludes venison, wool and co-products) in revenue during the first four months of 2020.

One Hand Plants, The Other Kills

3 June 2020 | Alan Emerson | Farmers Weekly

Going back over the Budget I was fascinated by the $100 million wilding pine allocation. You can get rid of many trees with that. I believed wilding pines were pinus contorta, imported in the 1880s for erosion control and planted until the late 1970s. The Conservation Department website says it’s now any pine, pinus radiata and douglas fir are included as wilding pines.

There are now 1.8m hectares of land covered by wilding pines. They are spreading at 90,000 hectares a year.

Post Covid Ideas

A farmer led solution integrating conservation and food security to enhance the protection and establishment of native reserves across New Zealand

28 April 2020

While we applaud finding work for out of work Forestry workers, what a reversal of common sense this is.  To  cover productive farm land with pine trees, then spend a lot of money killing wilding pines on Hieracium infested scree!    

We feel our solution sent to the Minister was enduring, sustainable and an immediate potential solution to finding jobs as we look to ways to kick start the economy.

Farming Leaders Must Set Record Straight

9 January 2020 | Steven Cranston  | NZ Farm Life Media

Now the Government has handed the responsibility of how agriculture will manage and reduce its emissions back to the industry itself, we have been landed an incredible opportunity to turn our emissions profile into the positive story it deserves to be.

The message we need to start sending is that agriculture has one of the smallest global warming impacts of any major industry in New Zealand. The only way to demonstrate that is by completing a full emissions budget.

Climate Chains: Follow The Science, Not Emotion, Says NZ Farmer, Steve Collins

On 10 October, I wrote to all New Zealand Members of Parliament to express my concern about the Zero Carbon Bill currently before the House. To their credit, the government opted to exempt agriculture from the Emissions Trading Scheme for the immediate future, and to instead work with environmentalists, farmers, iwi and other stakeholders to manage climate change.

However, my concerns remain regarding the scientific foundation on which man-made climate change is built, and for remaining policy that will impact every New Zealander into the future. Taxes, premiums on products and services to account for carbon footprints, subsidising forestry initiatives that potentially destroy farmland perpetually along with rural communities, and even having an ETS, are some of these.

Federated Farmers

What Federated Farmers actually agreed to on climate change and pricing

26 July 2019

You will have undoubtedly seen or heard about the release yesterday of the Government’s recommendations on the Interim Climate Change Commission report. A lot of the media outlets have got confused with this announcement and the targets discussion and quite frankly written something that bears little resemblance to what our sector has actually agreed to, or basically just grabbed a bunch of quotes from here, there and everywhere and turned it into something largely nonsensical.


Meat Industry Association welcomes Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment

16 July 2019

Farmers and growers up for creating a system where they take ownership of the system and accountability for achieving reductions. The alternative – an emissions tax on processors based on the Emissions Trading Scheme – will do nothing to reduce on-farm emissions. 

Greenhouse Gases - A more realistic view


There is a huge amount of scientific literature about the benefits of additional CO2 in the atmosphere; it is in fact the gas of life. Doubling of the level of CO2 in the atmosphere would most likely result in about 30% increase in plant growth, a result which would be a terrific boon towards food production for an increasing world population.

CO2 has such a small part to play in global warming/climate change, with no more than 20% of the total greenhouse (heating of the earth) effect and probably a lot less than that and the effects of CH4 and N2O are trivial. This means that there is an urgent need to stop all this expensive concentration on ‘climate change’ and be rid of the naivety of assuming that human beings can control and/or stabilise the climate.