Baisden, W. Troy (Landcare Research, New Zealand Ltd, Private Bag 11052, Massey Univ Campus, Palmerston,  North5300, New Zealand, Phone: +64 6-356 7145; Fax: +64 6-355-9230; Email:


Making Carbon-Trading Mechanisms Accessible to Indigenous Groups: Lessons From Working with Maori in New Zealand


G. Harmsworth, W.T. Baisden*


Many researchers and policy makers acknowledge that land owned and managed by indigenous groups differs from land owned and managed under more Western ownership and governance-type models. Differences may include characteristics such as landownership and management structures, historical connection, and land quality, as well as legislation, and policies and practice that guide land use and management.  Designing policy instruments to permit C trading within a nation therefore needs to recognise these differences where indigenous populations exist and to design policies that are cognisant of differing land-governance frameworks, economic status, and socio-cultural aspirations. We describe research we are conducting with a range of stakeholders – mostly landowners and policy agencies – to identify opportunities for indigenous Maori to contribute through forest carbon sinks to help New Zealand meet its commitments under the newly signed Kyoto protocol. We have focused our work to date on the North Island East Coast Region of New Zealand, an area with extensive undeveloped and erosion-prone Maori land.  In this research we have defined the areas of Maori owned land under different forms of land use, vegetative cover, and land capability or type. We are in the process of determining the economic and policy considerations required to increase Maori participation in New Zealand’s afforestation-based climate change mitigation policy.  Perhaps surprisingly, our 2 key findings describe: 1) the need to understand complex governance structures for Maori land, often involving tens to hundreds of owners – many of whom are absent from participatory decision-making, and 2) the need to determine Maori community aspirations for land.  We find that appropriate land-covenanting policies can be modeled on existing policies to maintain and enhance biodiversity, but that all policies must consider governance. There is a need to develop appropriate models and contracts for income generation for distinct land areas through time, often dealing with successive ownership generations (at least 50 years), and identifying successive sources of income. Additionally, we have identified that the most important contribution on Maori land for climate change mitigation may be to develop initiatives that reduce indigenous scrub clearance, such as for plantation forestry and pasture, rather than just encourage the regeneration of native forests as we had originally assumed.  These findings emphasize the importance of developing an integrated socio-economic understanding of Maori land that identifies community, district, and regional aspirations to achieve long-term success, realise potential opportunities, and effect change.  We present our research as a model for effectively working with indigenous groups in the development of carbon trading, either within developed nations or in CDM projects.