Plump kererū (wood pigeon), rare kārearea (New Zealand falcon), kōtare (kingfisher), ruru (morepork) and pīwakawaka (fantail) call through the thick regenerating scrubby bush, secondary beech and broadleaf forest, manuka and remnant stands of beech and northern rata trees of Pigeon Bush Reserve.
Remote and isolated, the 1,157-hectare reserve lies between the Remutaka and Tararua Conservation Parks west of Featherston in the South Wairarapa. This steep, rugged land had been almost completely cleared and intensively farmed since the 1860s, but is returning to dense forest after being bought, protected and managed by the Native Forest Restoration Trust since 1995.
The Trust is a leading organisation in the protection and restoration of New Zealand’s native forest. It is committed to promoting the regeneration of forests, protecting native species and restoring their habitats, and to improving the quality of New Zealand’s waterways. Through a ground-breaking commercial agreement in 2012, Mercury has supported the Trust’s work in this and some of the other 7,000 hectares of native forests and wetlands throughout New Zealand it has purchased and protected.
The carbon credits that Mercury purchases from the Trust come from the regenerating native forest in Pigeon Bush Reserve. The trees in the Reserve are regularly measured and the extra growth is calculated and converted into carbon units, based on the age, size, and type of tree.
Mercury has ten agreements that support different New Zealand forestry projects to offset carbon produced by Mercury. The contract with the Native Forest Restoration Trust was not only commercially attractive, it stood out for its strong alignment to Mercury’s ultra-longterm view of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) through the Trust’s objective of restoring native forests so that New Zealanders can enjoy them forever.￼
The Trust was born in 1980 out of direct action taken by people protesting the felling of giant totara in Pureora Forest. Since that time, the Trust has continued to protect New Zealand forests and has rallied, purchased and protected well over 7,000 hectares for the ongoing benefit of all New Zealanders.
Sandy Crichton, Trust Manager, is clear about the wider impact of the Trust. “Protecting and restoring nature is an important part of our climate change response here in New Zealand.”
Through partnering with the Trust, Mercury is supporting the Trust’s stewardship of regenerating New Zealand forest, and contributing to a positive impact on climate change.
Sandy explains “From small beginnings, founded on genuine passion to protect and restore New Zealand’s native forest, the Trust has gone on to become one of the leading organisations involved in native forest restoration. The Trust is still relatively small, but we put the rallying call out and huge numbers of passionate people who really care a lot come together. Our recent fundraising in Northland and Taranaki is testament to this, along with everyone who gives their time on a volunteer basis.”
The Trust uses the extra income from its contract with Mercury for reserve management, including pest predator control, weed control, track cutting, signage and planting.
“Our relationship with Mercury is one of our oldest and most important business relationships,” says Sandy. “This was our first contracted relationship around carbon so it really paved the way in terms of other relationships that we’ve since put in place.”
It was forward thinking at the time, it is important now, and its value will be experienced by all New Zealanders into the future.
“The Trust recognises the efforts of companies who have measured their carbon footprint and then taken action to try and reduce emissions, as well as supporting native forest restoration to reduce the impact of unavoidable emissions,” says Sandy.
“The Trust’s work is only possible through our incredible supporters and more recently through ongoing carbon income from organisations such as Mercury.”
Mercury carefully measures and manages its greenhouse gas emissions and has maintained and enhanced a robust forestry investment programme for the past eight years. An outcome of the programme is that Mercury has become ‘carbon positive’ in the past three years, where the forestry we invest in absorbs more carbon than Mercury contributes to the environment.
Total reported carbon emissions include proportionate emissions from our Tuaropaki Trust and Nga Awa Purua partnerships.
Mercury is aware climate change has the potential to create physical risks, as well as regulatory and financial, for our operations well into the future. These could include more intense rainfall events in the Waikato catchment and increasing average temperatures where we generate electricity.
We have undertaken preliminary modelling of various future climate change scenarios to 2050 and beyond. Initial findings indicate increasing rainfall will provide the opportunity for increased generation. However, if the intensity of rainfall events increases then more water may need to be spilled rather than used for generation. Geothermal generation could also be reduced as increasing average temperatures will reduce the efficiency of our cooling towers and the generation process. We will continue to monitor and manage climate change risks and invest in a wide range of the most appropriate solutions.