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New Zealand needs to confront the challenges of land use change

Wednesday, May 29, 2024   Posted in: Resources and Information By: Administrator With tags: Report, Climate Change, land, environment

How do we respond to the environmental challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and water quality while looking after the economic, social and cultural life of our regions?

This is the pressing question addressed in a new report released by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

"Going with the grain: Changing land uses to fit a changing landscape" sets out the multiple environmental problems facing rural New Zealand and makes suggestions on how to approach the land use change needed to prevent further degradation.

“For too long, the issue of land use change has been relegated to the too-hard basket. As a nation we must confront the difficult questions, weigh the trade-offs involved and take action,” says the Commissioner, Simon Upton.

The report acknowledges that land use change will inevitably involve difficult decisions and trade-offs between environmental, economic and social priorities. The Commissioner draws on six years of research to outline a different kind of process to help central, regional and local government and communities with decision making.

“We have to decide where responsibility lies and who pays. Inaction means the environment bears the costs. If we want to avoid that, we have to be upfront about who foots the bill for land use change. That is as much about the viability of communities and the profitability of farmers as it is about the environment,” the Commissioner explains.

“Land use change cannot be avoided, if only because current policies – particularly those allowing for forestry offsetting through the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) – are actively encouraging it. A warming climate will accelerate these changes.”

Find out more about this report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.