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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (2012) 57(1): 18–23
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Feature article
Perspectives on Forests and Climate Change in New Zealand

Tim Payn *,1, Harley Spence 2, Tim Barnard 3, Peter Clinton 4 and Paul Charteris 5

1 Scion, Rotorua
2 Coastline Consultants, Rotorua
3 Scion, Rotorua
4 Scion, Christchurch
5 Scion, Rotorua
*Corresponding author.

Abstract: A series of workshops, interviews and an electronic survey were undertaken to understand the level of awareness and understanding of the NZ plantation forestry sector to the potential impacts of climate change and possible mitigation and adaptation approaches to combat those climate change impacts. Level of awareness and understanding of forests and climate change was good across the sample population, though it was suspected the wider forest sector as a whole could have lower levels of awareness. Climate change impacts of most concern appeared to be related to the negative impacts of increasingly frequent extreme climatic events, impacts on forest productivity of changed temperature and rainfall, and increased pest and disease outbreaks. Global and national policies were also seen to be an impact on forestry as a result of climate change. Current mitigation and adaptation activities in New Zealand are very limited but are expected to increase as greater knowledge on the quantification of impacts and their risks is developed through further research. The dominant mitigation topic identified was forests for carbon sequestration, but it was recognised that uncertainty around policy had slowed the development of new carbon forests to date. Development of fossil fuel replacement technologies or widespread use of forests to mitigate climate impacts on land other than forest were identified but seen as some way in the future. As impacts are more clearly understood there will be a need to translate response to the impacts into an adaptation strategy and this will be a logical step towards changed forestry systems that can minimise adverse effects or take advantage of opportunities such as energy or carbon forestry.
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