The future of New Zealand’s forests in the face of climate change

6 Apr 2021 by Andy Kenworthy

Our take on the government’s newly created Climate Change Commission hopes for a new respect for the restorative power of Aotearoa’s waterways. The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) has just submitted its response and recommendations to the Draft Advice from the commission to the government. As Million Metres’ parent organisation, there’s naturally an emphasis on the important role waterway restoration will have in tackling climate change.

In our submission to the Climate Change Commission we are keen to see them advise the government to increase support for regenerative farming methods that put the life back into our soils and waterways. We also recommend greater incentives for landowners to retire and reserve marginal farm land, including wetlands, waterways and catchment heads.

Phil Jones leads SBN’s work on climate. He says: “It’s great to see the Commissions support for large scale native planting and rewilding, which is vital for tackling climate change and restoring biodiversity. However, we think much wider natural regeneration efforts, across New Zealand’s landscapes, waterways and oceans, should be considered. It will help stimulate new ideas and increase community engagement with the national drive to lower our greenhouse gas emissions.” 

“There’s a deeper aspect to all this too. The full economic, social, psychological and spiritual benefits of climate change action are barely referenced in the report. This suggests they remain under-valued and poorly understood. 

“In the work of the Million Metres Streams Project, they include the benefits of exercise, working communally towards shared goals and renewing our connection to the landscape and water. There’s also a huge range of positive knock-on effects from restoring waterway banks.” 

Million Metres would like to see the Commission and Government place more emphasis on this in the future. We also support a strengthening emphasis on Te Ao Māori perspectives. We believe they are a culturally, historically and geographically appropriate manner to emphasise and celebrate nature’s role in the needed restoration, and the maintenance of living balance.