Activating a vision for forest restoration in Wanaka

Rocky Hill, near Wānaka, is a large property with Outstanding Natural Landscape values, including tourist hot spot Diamond Lake.

Once part of a larger high-country station, the property has been farmed and proudly cared for by one family for several decades.

They have long shared a vision of preserving Rocky Hill for future generations to enjoy. Wanting a good understanding of opportunities to support their economic viability, family succession, and restoration work, they asked Whirika for help.

Working collaboratively to incorporate ideas for diversified land use, in keeping with the natural environment, we identified the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) as a good option.

The ETS provides opportunities for landowners to earn carbon credits (also called NZUs) from eligible forests. We helped the family understand how the complex eligibility criteria relate to their property, after evaluating historical land management, regulations, and site visits to understand the bio-physical characteristics across the property. We assessed the existing vegetation’s eligibility for registration as a carbon sink, and identified where planting permanent native forest is possible.

With all requirements considered, we produced a carbon sink portfolio with maps detailing the classification of sites, potential carbon income, cash-flow analysis and establishment costs under various scenarios.

The next stage of work addresses the big questions: How would they go about establishing native forest, how much would it cost, how would they fund it, and what revenue can they expect to receive? Recommendations include how to accelerate natural regeneration and staging areas for planting, to reduce initial costs, and using income for subsequent plantings.