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Greater Wellington on the pathway to lower carbon emissions

Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Climate Committee has supported two proposals to retire grazing and restore rare wetland and forest ecosystems in its Queen Elizabeth and Kaitoke regional parks, a decision that will accelerate the regional council’s move to become climate positive by 2035.

Greater Wellington’s Low Carbon Acceleration Fund will allocate $1,399, 101 to restore 128.5 hectares of peatland and dune forest at QEP and $370,810 to restore 21.8 hectares of pasture land at Kaitoke Regional Park.

Both projects will commence in October 2020 subject to endorsement by the full council.

In QEP a proportion of the grazing land will be retired, underlying peatlands restored and adjacent sand dunes will have native forest cover re-established. This will reduce Greater Wellington’s carbon footprint by 1.2 per cent of its gross emissions and two per cent of its net emissions, by 2030.

The net reductions to Greater Wellington’s carbon footprint will arise from reducing grazing and the carbon sequestration gains from afforestation of the dunes, which can be converted to tradeable carbon units.

While restoring the peatland to wetland will not yield tradeable units, it will contribute towards real emissions reductions to the atmosphere by converting the land from a carbon source to a carbon sink.

In a second recommendation, grazing in Kaitoke Regional Park will be phased out over 21.8 hectares, to be replaced by forest.

The outcome will be a reduction in Greater Wellington’s carbon footprint by 0.2 per cent in gross emissions and 0.5 per cent in net emissions by 2030.

Collateral benefits include the restoration of regionally threatened forest types, significantly improved biodiversity through increasing the habitat available for native birds and other fauna, recreation opportunities, and the potential for mānuka honey production.