NEW ZEALAND, Auckland. Independent research has found New Zealand’s sheep and beef farms are already close to being carbon neutral and strengthens calls for the formal recognition of on-farm sequestration.
The study led by Dr. Bradley Case at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) estimates the woody vegetation on New Zealand sheep and beef farms is offsetting between 63% and 118% of their on-farm agricultural emissions. If the mid-point in the report’s range is used, on average the woody vegetation on sheep and beef farms is absorbing about 90% of these emissions.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO Sam McIvor says absolute greenhouse gas emissions from New Zealand sheep and beef production have reduced by 30% since 1990.
“This research shows that of the remaining emissions, the vast majority are being offset by the trees on our farms and New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are well on the way to being carbon neutral by 2050. The study reinforces the importance of farmers getting formal recognition for the sequestration happening on their farms,” says Mr McIvor.
Dr. Bradley Case, Senior Lecturer in GIS and Remote Sensing in the Applied Ecology Department, School of Science at AUT, said there is a strong case for farmers to get credit for the sequestration happening on their farms. “This research not only builds understanding of the overall greenhouse gas contribution of the sheep and beef sector, but will help inform the development of policy, and further reinforce the outstanding biodiversity on sheep and beef farms,” he added.
According to the AUT report, the woody vegetation is made up of 1.52 mill. ha of native forest and 0.48 mill. ha of exotic vegetation. In addition to sequestering carbon, this vegetation delivers wider benefits for New Zealand’s biodiversity and freshwater ecosystems. Importantly, the net carbon emissions estimation assumed a net-neutral rate for soil sequestration so the amount of sequestration happening could be even greater.