Re: Payments for environmental services (PES) in theory and practice: Lessons learned and way forward


1. What are the lessons learned from PES in developed and developing countries?

In New Zealand a developed country, the indigenous peoples, Maori, a tribally based community have low socio economic statistics, more similar to developing countries, than developed countries. This has meant that access to PES is still low and in New Zealand, PES is still evolving. For Iwi Maori (tribal Maori) PES are seen as an important contribution to their commitment and ethos as kaitiaki or stewards. Maori collectively own approximately 500,000 hectares of land that is mainly marginal and undeveloped. For a range of reasons including lack of capital, land management structures and government policy. For Maori having PES would recognize the role that Maori land often in native forests and reserved for cultural and environmental reasons have to the water quality, biodiversity and erosion control for the rest of the countries.

2. PES can be conceived as a diverse set of policies, institutions and processes that mobilize funding from direct beneficiaries, taxpayers, consumers and other interested parties to reward/remunerate/pay providers of environmental services. Which type of PES-related policy instruments would you recommend for your own particular country and why?

Many Maori would be more open to retaining lands in native forests if PES were readily available. One option raised at recent meetings amongst Maori in regards to climate change was the establishment of a biodiversity credit to support Maori who have a long term view of land ownership and allow them to trade these credits as a carbon market would work.

3. What should be the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in making PES work for sustainable development?

Porou Whanui Forests is a forestry company 100% owned by Maori and more specifically the tribal grouping of Ngati Porou. NPWFL was established in the late 1980’s for several reasons, the first was to ensure that land owned by Ngati Porou was retained in the traditional and collective ownership of the tribe. Inherent cultural connections to the land based on spiritual and intergenerational inheritance were being threatened through government policy and the best way for Ngati Porou to avoid the ramifications of these policies was to develop their lands. However the land is extremely erosion prone with massive sedimentation issues in the Waiapu river caused by wide scale land clearances on lands not best suited for farming. Ngati Porou decided that the only way to save their lands from slipping off quite steep lands into the rivers was to convert lands to forestry. There were significant cultural and environmental reasons for this.

However Ngati Porou is situated in one of the most depressed socio-economic areas of New Zealand, finding the capital to afforest was next to impossible until a joint venture option with Korean firm Hansol Forem and the New Zealand Government’s afforestation incentive programme called the East Coast Forestry Project were established. This provided effectively a subsidy to encourage east coast landowners to afforest. The key for the government was erosion control, however spin off effects have been improved water quality from previous land uses  and bio diversity improvement reviving and supporting traditional food gathering and traditional knowledge. The combination of this partnership has allowed this successful afforestation of 10,000 hectares of land and a proposed further 10,000ha in the next 10 years. It is now one of the largest employers on the East Coast and is set to harvest its first rotation in the next 5 years. The company is run along cultural values and is intrinsically Ngati Porou, using traditional structures and lands to become one of the largest indigenously owned and operated companies in the country. NPWFL are now embarking on a major carbon scheme to add further value to their owners, as well as taking advantage of the Emissions Trading Scheme in New Zealand rewarding the natural affinity of Ngati Porou as environmental stewards through a user pay system for polluters.

In Taupo, the central part of the north island of New Zealand, government legislation dictated that lands should be reviewed for their landscape or natural value. During a desktop review of the lands in the region, it was identified that a huge majority of the lands that were considered to have landscape or natural, ecological value were Maori lands. These lands were then put under a protection policy to restrict development. For Maori this was hugely restrictive, as they did not have the opportunity to develop their lands previously due to lack of capital and land management structures, they were still in native forests and non-developed. However the lands around them were heavily developed and environmental issues, like erosion and lack of amenity areas were prevalent. Maori lands therefore were being disadvantaged as just because they could not develop their lands, and have retained the natural and landscape value, they could not develop in the future. Maori were calling for the local government to recognize and not restrict development. PES would have created capital to sustainably develop many of those lands for tourism options.

Ngā Mihi,

Tina Porou

Tina Porou | Ohaaki Consenting Manager | Contact Energy
Taupo, New Zealand