Possums eat trees. Trees take carbon from the air. Kill possums, tree growth increases, and more carbon’s sucked out of the atmosphere. The Department of Conservation’s been keen on this idea for some time, to the extent of claiming last year that $200 million spent on possum and goat control would sequester enough carbon to meet New Zealand’s complete Kyoto emissions overshoot. They’ve finally convinced the cabinet that this is worth pursuing: conservation minister Chris Carter announced yesterday [Scoop, Stuff] that DoC will tender for commercial investment in six carbon offset trials.
Details of the projects are still being developed but they are likely to be of two types. The first will set aside specific areas of conservation land for either replanting or natural regeneration of forests on land which was not in forest prior to 1989, thus making these measures Kyoto compliant. The second type of project, likely to be the largest of the two, will involve major pest control initiatives on conservation land to measure and assess increases in carbon storage, both through the removal of pests which may emit methane and through increased growth in shrubs and trees with the pests gone.
Interestingly, Carter notes:
“Companies have already been approaching DOC with multi-million dollar conservation and carbon storage proposals. The government’s decisions mean that all New Zealand companies are put on a level playing field in a tender process for the carbon storage opportunities conservation land offers.