Greenpeace reveal Dairy expansion out of control

Press release - April 7, 2008
Greenpeace has today revealed the extent of climate-damaging dairy conversion in New Zealand with an activity in the central North Island in which 30 volunteers are currently replanting over 1000 trees on land cleared for dairy farming.

Taupo, central North Island, New Zealand. Landcorp, a New Zealand Government owned company, currently converting Tahorakuri Forest into large-scale intensive dairy farms. Landcorp has embarked on a project to convert more than 25,000 hectares of pine plantations northeast of Taupo.

Taupo, central North Island, New Zealand. Landcorp, a New Zealand Government owned company, currently converting Tahorakuri Forest into large-scale intensive dairy farms. Landcorp has embarked on a project to convert more than 25,000 hectares of pine plantations northeast of Taupo.

Taupo, central North Island, New Zealand. Landcorp, a New Zealand Government owned company, currently converting Tahorakuri Forest into large-scale intensive dairy farms. Landcorp has embarked on a project to convert more than 25,000 hectares of pine plantations northeast of Taupo. Agriculture accounts for 49 per cent of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Taupo, central North Island, New Zealand. Landcorp, a New Zealand Government owned company, currently converting Tahorakuri Forest into large-scale intensive dairy farms.

The land being replanted by Greenpeace is leased and managed by New Zealand's biggest farmer, State Owned Enterprise Landcorp, and is part of the Tahorakuri Forest Estate, northeast of Taupo.

Greenpeace has also released aerial footage and photos of Landcorps forestry conversion to intensive dairy farming.

The activity comes just two weeks after Greenpeace blocked a shipment of Solid Energy coal in Lyttelton Harbour.

"Just as Solid Energy is expanding the mining and export of coal, Landcorp is overseeing the conversion of huge tracts of land from forestry to intensive dairy," said Greenpeace Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid, from the site of the activity.

"Dairy conversion is at an all time high and it is a major contributor to our greenhouse gas emissions. It is hypocrisy to have two state owned enterprises rapidly increasing its emissions whilst the Government claims to be a world leader on climate. "

"Converting forestry to make way for cows is effectively a 'double whammy' for the climate as it destroys forests and replaces it with dairy farming which is the most greenhouse gas intensive form of land use".

Agriculture is responsible for 49 per cent of all New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions and these have increased by 15 per cent since 1990, and the dairy sector is responsible for this increase.  

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry some 455,000 hectares of forestry land in New Zealand is at risk of being deforested and converted into pastoral use.  This is nearly seven times the size of Lake Taupo. (1)

Government figures also project that the number of dairy cows in New Zealand will increase by up to 21 per cent by 2010. (2) We can expect a corresponding increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite the sector's huge contribution to climate change, there is currently no legislation or policy in place to keep dairy expansion in check, or hold agriculture to account for its emissions. The agriculture sector has been excluded from the Government's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) until 2013.  Even when it is brought into the scheme the Government will subsidise the sector by covering the cost of up to 90 percent of its emissions until 2025.

Greenpeace is calling for a halt to the expansion of dairying until it can be shown to be more sustainable, and for the sector to be brought into the ETS within the next two years.

"Some farmers are leading the way by taking steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and recognise that their farms economic success depends on environmental sustainability," concluded Ms McDiarmid.

For the last six weeks Greenpeace has been travelling New Zealand as part of the Rainbow Warrior 'Target Climate Change' tour. Greenpeace is calling on all political parties to set a domestic emissions reduction target of 30 per cent by 2020 and develop policies to tackle emissions from the agricultural sector, including as a first step bringing the sector into the emissions trading scheme within the next two years.

Other contacts: Bunny McDiarmid - Greenpeace Executive Director - At Greenpeace protest - currently no phone coverage, call Simon Boxer for comment or Greg McNevin to arrange an interview. Simon Boxer- Greenpeace Climate Campaigner - 021 905 579 Greg McNevin, Greenpeace Communications Officer 021 577 556

VVPR info: High-resolution images and video of the action and aerial footage showing the extent of the clearance available at www.greenpeace.org.nz/media

Notes: (1) MAF, Area of forest 'at risk' from deforestation, August 2006, www.maf.govt.nz">http://www.maf.govt.nz/climatechange/forestry/ets/area-at-risk/page-04.htm">www.maf.govt.nz (2) MFE, Appendix A. Agriculture Emissions Projections provided by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, September 2007