Comparing the Carbon Storage Potential of Naturally Regenerated Tea Trees with Default New Zealand Carbon Look-Up Tables: A Case Study

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The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme allows landowners to be remunerated for the carbon sequestration capabilities of eligible forests established post 1990. For afforested areas of 100 hectares or fewer, carbon sequestration is estimated with the use of default carbon look-up tables administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries. However, a disparity exists between exotic pines (Pinus radiata), where carbon sequestration predictions are regionally differentiated, and native species, where carbon sequestration estimations are neither distinguished by species or locality. This paper aims to highlight this inequality by comparing the calculated carbon storage of endemic tree species with the ‘Indigenous Forest’ category in the carbon look-up tables. The carbon storage of 12-year-old naturally regenerated tea trees (Leptospermum scoparium and Kunzea ericoides) was calculated using allometric measurements and compared to the look-up tables. The results suggest that carbon look-up tables underestimate the carbon sequestration of native tea trees by 81.8%. A bimodal data distribution suggests that carbon sequestration is heavily dependent on light interception levels. It is recommended that carbon sequestration data for specific native species in different environments are collected and integrated into such tables.
New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme; carbon storage; tea trees; Leptospermum scoparium; Kunzea ericoides
Agriculture, 2023, 13(4) 856 pp. (12)