Field Measurement Approach Approved by MAF for Carbon Measurement

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), in its latest Sustainable Forestry Bulletin Sustainable Forestry Bulletin 25 MAF Publication database announced that Cabinet has approved the drafting of the regulations for the Field Measurement Approach (FMA) for assessing carbon stocks in post-1989 forest. The FMA Regulations are expected to be finalised by June this year and will come into force by September. Once in force, FMA participants will be able to request permanent sample plot locations.

Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and Permanent Forest Sink Initiative (PFSI) participants with 100 ha or greater of post-1989 forest land will have to adopt FMA. Those with less than 100 ha will stay on the published regionally-based default look-up tables.

FMA participants will submit plot data to MAF and have participant-specific look-up tables created. These tables must be used for the final emissions return of the 2008 – 2012 Mandatory Emissions Return period.

What are the implications of this for participants and would-be participants?

  • Many post-1989 forests will earn more NZUs on FMA-generated tables especially if forests are well-managed and sites are above average for the region.
  • Project feasibilities should be done using site/forest specific growth/carbon models that will better emulate the FMA-generated tables expected from MAF.
  • Plotting costs need to be included in feasibilities.
  • Good mapping will be critical to ensure that mapping criteria match with plot location criteria and sampling intensity.

Participants using the FMA should be aware of the deadlines:

September 2011 Participants able to request plot locations.
September 2012 (possibly sooner) Plot data processing begins; customised look-up tables produced.
March 2013 Mandatory emissions returns due.

While this seems to be ample time, participants will want to avoid putting off the field measurement for too long, as there is a risk that forest inventory contractors could be booked up and unavailable as the deadline approaches.

PF Olsen and the Forest Owners Association (FOA) are actively lobbying to allow FMA to be available to forest owners smaller than 100 hectares.