clouds eco environment 9198

Editorial

Treespace

February 11 2019 by Adam Smith, Treespace Founder

A forest powered by the people - Kia ora. At the end of 2018, scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported we had only ten years to avoid catastrophic climate-driven change. Individuals, communities, towns, and countries have been asked by scientists, world leaders and school children to account for environmental, social and carbon costs. Essential to this is the need to take a regenerative approach to our lives and the economy.

Treespace is our personal response to addressing the complex issues of climate change by planting native trees at scale and creating an opportunity for others to participate. New Zealand’s goal must be carbon neutrality and we want to make as big an impact as we can. The first site chosen for a Treespace native reforestation project is Mt Dewar. Just 7 kilometres from downtown Queenstown, Mt Dewar has 1,780 hectares of currently unproductive high-country farmland that’s burdened with wilding pines and introduced pest problems. Our goal is to restore and rebalance 99% of the mountain’s ecosystem through large scale native re-forestation and natural regeneration, using 0.1% of the land to establish building platforms for a mountainside forest community.

Proceeds from the sale of house sites will help fund planting over 400 hectares of native mountain beech forest across mid to lower elevations of Mt Dewar over a 15-year period. The maturing trees have the added benefit of visually absorbing future buildings with the forest settlement area. This, alongside the rewilding and ecological restoration of a further 1300 hectares of native shrubland and alpine tussock, will make Mt Dewar the largest commercial native reforestation in New Zealand’s history. A forest powered by the people. The Treespace project will provide housing for 53 families within a defined area on the lower corner of the mountain that adjoins Arthurs Point. 80% of the home sites proposed will be small footprint (10m x 10m) to promote small-house design to minimise environmental impact and maximise affordability. Public enjoyment, education and forging connections with nature are fundamental to the project’s success.

The addition of a further 20kms of hiking and biking trails and the realignment of existing farm tracks will deliver over 50kms of public biking, hiking, and access trails across the mountain including a ridgeline trail, a summit to Long Gully route and connecting the Zoot trail to the lowest Coronet Peak Road base car. Regardless of Mt Dewar’s compromised ecological state, its current legal classification as an ‘Outstanding Natural Landscape’ means that the Treespace team are now seeking council and community endorsement to proceed. It is our hope that long-term thinking prevails and any potential short-term visual effects of buildings until the forest establishes itself are justified in light of the much bigger environmental movement that we are all a part of. If you would like to know more about the project or submissions hop onto our Facebook @treespacecommunity and we’d be happy to answer any questions. Nga mihi.

Adam Smith
Treespace Founder

- Adam Smith, Treespace Founder
Comments
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  • PSYCO

    Tell me, do we get more "credits" for native trees than we do for pine trees? If we poison 1 Billion wilding pines, and plant say 1 million native trees, what is the benefit "credit" wise????

    Posted 11/02/2019 9:22pm (2 months ago)

  • PSYCO

    Further to that Adam, read the latest analysis from Charlie Mitchell at Stuff, which was released today...all indications are that as the earth warms up, housing which is surrounded by trees are in serious danger of being destroyed by more and more forest fires....so count me out.

    Posted 12/02/2019 12:26pm (2 months ago)

  • Tim C

    It is actually 11 months. Because we need to drive down emissions by 6% per year for a decade starting from 2020, not wait until 2030. Arguably were are already in crisis it just depends where in the world you live. For those on the left and most in the environmental movement, we have yet to face up to what this problem is asking, rapidly reducing fossil fuels and doing away with the consumer culture that has driven us to the threshold of complete collapse. We are now so far into this that only a transformation of society can give us a chance to hand over a world that might function for the next generation.

    The looming environmental crisis is not asking for a ‘personal response’. It requires collective action.

    Consumer culture and neoliberalism has made its way to Queenstown over the last few years, K-mart and house prices illustrate this well enough. To a degree you are facing from the community and finding yourself arguing with certain sections that you probably didn’t expect because of what has happened to the community. Your PR programme won’t work.

    Posted 12/02/2019 12:32pm (2 months ago)

  • Tim C

    It is actually 11 months. Because we need to drive down emissions by 6% per year for a decade starting from 2020, not wait until 2030. Arguably were are already in crisis it just depends where in the world you live. For those on the left and most in the environmental movement, we have yet to face up to what this problem is asking, rapidly reducing fossil fuels and doing away with the consumer culture that has driven us to the threshold of complete collapse. We are now so far into this that only a transformation of society can give us a chance to hand over a world that might function for the next generation.

    The looming environmental crisis is not asking for a ‘personal response’. It requires collective action.

    Consumer culture and neoliberalism has made its way to Queenstown over the last few years, K-mart and house prices illustrate this well enough. To a degree you are facing from the community and finding yourself arguing with certain sections that you probably didn’t expect because of what has happened to the community. Your PR programme won’t work.

    Posted 12/02/2019 12:32pm (2 months ago)

  • Tim C

    Half was cut off...

    It is actually 11 months. Because we need to drive down emissions by 6% per year for a decade starting from 2020, not wait until 2030. Arguably were are already in crisis it just depends where in the world you live. For those on the left and most in the environmental movement, we have yet to face up to what this problem is asking, rapidly reducing fossil fuels and doing away with the consumer culture that has driven us to the threshold of complete collapse. We are now so far into this that only a transformation of society can give us a chance to hand over a world that might function for the next generation.

    The looming environmental crisis is not asking for a ‘personal response’. It requires collective action.

    Consumer culture and neoliberalism has made its way to Queenstown over the last few years, K-mart and house prices illustrate this well enough. This is why you are facing skepticism from the community and finding yourself arguing with certain sections that you probably didn’t expect. Your PR programme won’t work.

    If we take a step back and look at the wider world, in Dahr Jamails latest book, Dr Philip Stoddardask asks an interesting question about our inability to face what is happening. He remarks as he watches the White House rip apart measures to slow the race toward destruction, ‘what kind of morality allows them to ignore what is going to happen’. I think this extends across the board of mainstream politics.

    First, there will be people who seek to use this as an opportunity to profit under the guise of 'sustainability' and put eco in front of proposals, and second, there will be those on the front putting their bodies on the line trying to get governments to halt what seems like a certain catastrophe, which is why we a seeing tactics that Extinction Rebellion are pursuing.

    So my question is which one are you?

    https://rebellion.earth
    https://dark-mountain.net

    Posted 12/02/2019 12:37pm (2 months ago)

  • Sam Chapman - Treespace

    Hi Tim, thanks for taking the time to comment and for the interesting links. We agree with much of what you say although we've chosen a path of positive action as opposed to protest...and yes we're putting everything on the line. This will be the largest native reforestation project of its type in the history of New Zealand if we are allowed to proceed. The ecological impact will be significant but perhaps more so will be the practical demonstration of a regenerative approach to economics. Cheers, Sam

    Posted 12/02/2019 6:32pm (2 months ago)

  • Sam Chapman - Treespace

    Hi Psyco, sadly its not that simple. You need to factor in the ecological impact of wilding pines and the fact that they outcompete all indigenous species. By returning native forest to its rightful place you restore the soil, water and biodiversity as well as preserving the naturalness of our landscape. This is actually beginning to be reflected in the price applied to carbon with higher prices achieved for forest carbon sinks that enhance the above. Best, Sam

    Posted 12/02/2019 6:38pm (2 months ago)

  • Sam Chapman - Treespace

    Hi again Psyco, we've carefully considered fire safety. All homes will be serviced by a hydrant system on reticulated water supply with additional storage capacity in reserve - and we are in discussions with QLDC to provide an additional water reservoir for the wider Arthurs Point community. The average distance from a house site to the edge of the forest (either above or below) is around 150 metres so unlike more challenging areas where there is only a single direction for safe passage - and a more flammable species such as pine. Regards, Sam

    Posted 12/02/2019 6:53pm (2 months ago)

  • Tim Engel

    The building plot area of 10x10 seems completely rediculous considering the total land area, selling a larger space allowing people to become more self sufficient on their own land imo would be a lot better idea. Having strict guide lines on building design and size to suit the owner and the project as a whole would also seem sensible. I feel renewable energy should be at the for front of the design process, glass fronted North facing with concrete interior to create passive heating, solar hot water and electricity all mandatory....... It would be an amazing thing to have a near self sufficient eco sub division in Queenstown. What would be the possibility of releasing wild deer and goats, then have a yearly organised hunt where the residents pay for the control of livestock numbers (for example queenstown Hill goats and Jack's point deer) and then receive an animal (or half or volume dependant) to compliment anything they grow on their plot. In my mind, this could be the ultimate kiwi lifestyle! I wish you all the best with the project and sincerely hope you make it as eco friendly as technology and environment allow.

    Posted 13/02/2019 9:44am (2 months ago)

  • Sam Chapman - Treespace

    Hi Tim, thanks for the thoughtful comments. The building platform size of 10X10m was chosen to lower environmental impact and encourage affordability through small house design. There is the ability to build two levels on a number of sites but the building envelope decreases to mitigate visual impact (the building foot print needs to be narrower). We could have chosen larger sites but the visual, environmental and cost implications would have increased commensurately with the size. There are rigorous design controls established to ensure only natural materials and finishes as well as glazing allowances etc which encourage passive house design principles as well the application of solar arrays with low reflectivity. A large area has been set aside for a managed community garden to allow the community to grow their own food. This will be supplemented by organic waste collection to be processed by a central bio-digestor creating both energy and compost for the forest settlement and gardens. Creating a strong community is fundamental to the project's success and social diversity is key to this, hence the desire to ensure that as large a percentage of sites were as accessible as possible from a financial perspective while still ensuring there was sufficient revenue to fund the reforestation and return a 7% return to impact investors. Thanks, Sam

    Posted 13/02/2019 10:36am (2 months ago)

  • intreegued

    The carbon sequestration and subsequent earning of credits is an interesting one. It's hard to see natives stacking up on this front alone, to sequester carbon quickly and effectively, exotic species offer far more potential (up to four times more, in terms of long term storage). You can only be allocated carbon credits for carbon sequestered, ecosystem service schemes that will reward you for things like ecological restoration exist, but you can't pretend that native species are more effective at sequestering carbon. The schemes recognise this. You can't trade ecosystem service credits with someone who needs to offset a carbon liability.

    While the decision to re-establish native vegetation in its own right is admirable, it's unlikely to stack up financially from a carbon sequestration point of view at this location. I suppose that is why you are selling the sections. Not all exotic species are "weedy", it's just an unfortunate quirk of history that two of the "weediest" were established throughout our hill country in the 20th century. There are other species that could be planted and commercially harvested, which would increase the carbon sequestered and provide long term cash flow for investors.

    Posted 14/02/2019 10:48am (2 months ago)

  • Sam Chapman - Treespace

    Hi Intreegued, thanks for the comments. The available data detailing carbon sequestration by native species is still relatively new, however recent work undertaken by the School of Forestry at Canterbury University has shown that over 120-150 years, mountain beech stands should be able to sequester approximately 600 tonnes per hectare CO2e, or about 4 tonnes CO2e per hectare per year. This is slower than rates of carbon sequestration by fast-growing plantations which can sequester 15 to 30 tonnes CO2e per hectare per year. However, carbon sequestration by mountain beech does continue for >100 years, long after most fast growth plantations will have reached site carrying capacity and are therefore no longer functioning as carbon sinks. It also important to note that these estimates for mountain beech are based on naturally regenerated stands, and that planted mountain beech forests may establish more rapidly and have higher initial rates of CO2e sequestration. In addition to the 400 hectares of Beech Forest established there is a further 1300 hectares of land being naturally regenerated - this contains areas of Manuka and other grey shrubland species some of which will have carbon sequestration potential. Our goal is not purely carbon sequestration, it is to find the optimum ecological and social benefit that can be created throughout the project which also include water and soil quality, enhanced bio-diversity and public access and enjoyment . Cheers, Sam

    Posted 14/02/2019 11:37am (2 months ago)

  • intreegued

    The advantage of fast growing exotic species is that in 100 years you'll likely harvest the wood three times, not only supplying more timber, but also increasing the amount of carbon sequestered. So you're getting a lot more bang for your buck, in terms of carbon sequestration, so to speak (until the buildings you build eventually burn down or rot, but that's all part of the process). Mature native forest that isn't harvested will maintain a reasonable store of carbon, but some results suggest that canopy disturbance can result in such forests being net emitters of carbon on an annual basis once they reach maturity. Rotational plantation forests play an important role in emissions mitigation in this regard.

    600 t/ha is a very high number for native NZ forest, it'd be great to see a reference if you've got one. That is a number that probably reflects highly ideal site conditions. I'm not sure if it would be a reasonable number to attach to a sub-alpine site.

    The remaining area is an interesting one too, there is a strong water conservation rationale for prioritising the preservation of tussock over re-colonisation by woodier species. At the same time, carbon exchange by tussock is a slow and minimal process.

    Posted 14/02/2019 6:40pm (2 months ago)

  • Sam Chapman - Treespace

    Hi Intreegued,

    Restoring the natural ecology and landscape is core to the project and given the significant issues with introduced weeds and wildings already across the mountain fast growing exotic species are regarded as being not suitable regardless of the carbon or timber potential.

    As mentioned in the previous note - maximising carbon is not our goal - it's restoring the natural ecological balance and in doing so finding an optimal outcome which includes carbon sequestration. The mountain was previously forested in mountain beech which is what we are proposing to return to the land. The native tussock and grasslands exist at a level above the natural treeline, which in the case of beech is 850-1000 metres above sea level. From a viability perspective we will be planting to 650m on the faces and up to 800m in gullies, allowing for natural spead beyond this. The natural tussock line will also be restored through regeneration.

    Long term grazing and historic top-dressing have degraded the existing native tussock and introduced grass species have replaced them especially at lower levels. We have already removed all livestock from the property to allow for the natural regeneration of the native tussock land. We whole heartedly agree with the significant and important water conservation value of tussock due to their natural ability to harvest precipitation from the air and return it to the water table.

    In regards to the beech sequestration figures. The best estimates of carbon sequestration by mountain beech are in a paper by Murray Davis and colleagues (Davis et al. 2003). The study by Davis et al. is based on measurements from four even-aged stands, from 10-year-old seedlings through a 25-year old sapling stand and a 120-year-old pole stand, culminating in a mature forest of > 150 years of age. However, the 10 and 25 -year-old stands were regenerated after destruction of mature mountain beech stands by wind, and thus contained a very high proportion of coarse woody debris (CWD), which slowly reduced due to decay as the live biomass of the regenerating stand increased. Thus, even the young stands contained very high levels of sequestered carbon, mostly in the form of CWD. Therefore, to estimate the carbon content of planted mountain beech, estimates of carbon in coarse woody debris from Davis et al. were excluded for the 10 and 25-year-old stands.

    The carbon data reported by Davis et al was in the forms of Mg (tonnes) of elemental carbon, and included carbon sequestered in tree stems, CWD, and in organic and mineral soil. No estimates were made of carbon in belowground biomass (roots). Therefore, for this study carbon in below ground tree biomass was estimated using the UNFCCC recommended ratio of 0.25 x aboveground biomass (see https://cdm.unfccc.int/methodologies/ARmethodologies/tools/ar-am-tool-14- v2.1.0.pdf/history_view)

    All elemental carbon values were converted to tonnes CO2e using the ratio of molecular weight of carbon dioxide to carbon (44/12). Soil carbon was excluded from the estimates as this was reasonably similar across all four ages in Davis et al. It is therefore assumed that soil C is not a major carbon sink in mountain beech forests, compared with tree biomass and CWD.

    Cheers, Sam

    Posted 14/02/2019 7:44pm (2 months ago)

  • Tim C

    Ok il address your response more thoroughly than you cared to of mine. So, positive action as opposed to protest - il ignore the connotation of adding positive as though protest is not. Heres an example, I could go decide i'm selling my car and walk to work from now on, therefore reducing my carbon footprint, YAY positive action and a personal response - aint gonna stop whats coming. But, positive action as you have used it is a meaningless term for the scale of our problem.

    This will be the largest native reforestation project of its type in the history of New Zealand if we are allowed to proceed. Can you not reforest somewhere else, or is this the only place you are able to do so?. Ah but you might be able to swindle wealthy people who can hide in the mountains trying to ignore what is coming.

    As for 'regenerative approach to economics'. Read this, https://medium.com/@margaretkleinsalamon/the-transformative-power-of-climate-truth-6e5622ce84fe?fbclid=IwAR32FZhzOUGY36jc99PM-EaonLR5haXA9qls-jxUeGS2QU5UKNENe2ugPS8.

    Its time to cut the crap and for everyone to be honest that were facing the likely possibility of societal collapse including civilisation collapse. Again we need collective actions to push governments to do what is needed - they are the only apparatus available and capable of solving the problems we face - not 'personal responses'.

    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/02/12/features/noam-chomsky-couple-generations-organized-human-society-may-not-survive-has-be

    Again your 'personal response' can be whatever you like but don't pitch it as anything more than that, citing the IPCC timeframe for 1.5C special report is rather crude, not sure if you have read the document in which it goes on to state that there is no historic precedent for limiting warming. Is the what you project is proposing? Of course its not.

    Part of your problem I think is your narrow framing of how environmental and climate breakdown is happening - and your anthropocentric approach - however all the best but your response to my post was not sufficient to changed my view. Their are also other problems equally severe such as insect and animal decline and soil depletion (possibly 30 years until exhaustion going by some reports).

    https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2019/02/it-s-no-longer-climate-change-we-re-living-through-it-s-environmental?fbclid=IwAR1vhsR1RsyJcxuaehJulenP9XYmva9wzbhzcRNAEfUaoN8fONzpy3oXZII

    Regards Tim C

    Posted 17/02/2019 4:39pm (2 months ago)