October 9, 2020


New Zealand's beef, sheep farms close to being carbon neutral, says new study


New Zealand's sheep and beef farms are nearly carbon neutral, a new research from the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) has found.


The study, led by applied ecologist Dr Bradley Case, said the woody vegetation on New Zealand sheep and beef farms is offsetting between 63% and 118% of their on-farm agricultural emissions.

If the mid-point in the report's range is used, on average the woody vegetation on sheep and beef farms is absorbing about 90% of these emissions, a news release posted on the AUT website said.


The woody vegetation is made up of 1.52 million hectares of native forest and 0.48 million hectares of exotic vegetation, according to Case. This vegetation delivers wider benefits for New Zealand's biodiversity and freshwater ecosystems, besides sequestering carbon, he added.


"This research shows that of the remaining emissions, the vast majority are being offset by the trees on our farms and New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are on the way to being carbon neutral by 2050", Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO Sam McIvor said, adding that absolute greenhouse gas emissions from New Zealand sheep and beef production have decreased by 30% since 1990. B+LNZ commissioned the research.


Case credited farmers for the carbon sequestration happening on their farms. "This is an integral part of He Waka Eke Noa, the regulatory framework that industry and government are currently developing to manage agricultural emissions and recognise on-farm sequestration", he stated.


Case also said the report identifies where sheep and beef farmers can focus to continue building the native vegetation and biodiversity on their farms. "The regional maps in the research indicate where management is most needed to ensure mature/old growth forests are managed to prevent them becoming sources of atmospheric carbon", he said.