Climate-resilient forestry & horticulture

Dense forest on a steep hillside

Māori within the Waiapu catchment on the East Coast have longterm interests in the land they own and manage. Māori are also heavily invested in primary industries. Projected climate change impacts put these interests at risk. 

The East Coast is already suffering high rates of erosion and sedimentation – the repercussions of previous land management decisions. More extreme rainfall will likely cause erosion to get worse, and degraded soils mean the effects of drought may become more severe.

To help landowners reduce these risks and to maximise their revenue, this project models the economics of different land-use decisions within a range of potential climate change scenarios.

Alongside landowners, we identified multiple land-use opportunities with a range of social, economic, environmental and cultural benefits. These included alternative forestry options (mānuka, kānuka, tōtara, mataī, puriri, harakeke  and kawakawa), horticultural options (honey, olives and olive oil, lemons and hemp) and other medicinal and cosmetic business options derived from mātauranga Māori.

A significant early finding is that for all future climate change scenarios,  re-foresting the land – particularly with indigenous species – results in a significant reduction of soil erosion for the Waiapu catchment. The implications of this finding are complex and raise, for example, issues about inter-generational equity. Nevertheless, this finding also provides a strong case that ecosystem services such as erosion control and carbon sequestration should be paid for – potentially leading to an additional revenue source for landowners.

The strong and diverse relationships built throughout this project ensure our research will be properly shared with landowners and that pathways will continue to be developed for landowners wanting to implement change. 

Project contact: Shaun Awatere, Landcare Research | Ngāti Porou  
Project budget: $250,000
Project duration: October 2015 – September 2017

Research and findings:
Climate Resilient Māori Land Investment decisions to enhance Māori prosperity, Shaun Awatere and Pia Pohatu, Deep South Symposium
Implications of future climatic uncertainty on payments for forest ecosystem services: The case of the East Coast of New Zealand, Shaun Awatere, Ecosystem Services Journal (2018)



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