Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Conservation & carbon

Image - S Richardson

Conservation lands cover c. 33% of New Zealand and contain NZ’s biggest stock of forest carbon. However, relatively little is known about the management actions that enhance carbon storage or reduce carbon leakage. In addition, almost nothing is known about how the rate of carbon storage changes during indigenous forest successions.

What research is needed?

We need to know which management actions will most effectively increase carbon storage and safeguard existing carbon storage. We also need to know how rapidly carbon is stored in indigenous forest successions and if we could even design “high carbon” ecosystems while maintaining ecological integrity.

How will this information be used?

This information will be used to enable land managers to plan for “high carbon” ecosystems while maintaining ecological integrity such as biodiversity, water quality, erosion control etc. In addition, knowledge of how carbon storage changes with time allows more certainty in carbon markets and encourage more private-public sector partnerships on conservation lands. Current work involves quantifying current and potential carbon storage on conservation land, measuring the influence of coarse woody debris on total forest carbon storage, quantifying change in carbon storage in woody successions and quantification of the impacts of herbivores on ecosystem carbon stocks.


  • Carswell FE, Burrows LE, Hall GMJ, Mason NWH, Allen RB 2012. Carbon and plant diversity gain during 200 years of woody succession in lowland New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 36(2): 191-202.
  • Holdaway RJ, Burrows LE, Carswell FE, Marburg AE 2012. Potential for invasive mammalian herbivore control to result in measurable carbon gains. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 36(2): 252-264.
  • Mason NWH, Carswell FE, Overton JM, Briggs CM, Hall GMJ 2012. Estimation of current and potential carbon stocks and Kyoto-compliant carbon gain on conservation land. Science for Conservation 317. Department of Conservation. 39 p.
  • Mason NWH, Carswell FE, Richardson SJ, Burrows LE 2011. Leaf palatability and decomposability increase during a 200-year-old post-cultural woody succession in New Zealand. Journal of vegetation science 22(1): 6-17.
  • Allen R, Carswell F 2010. Environmental benefits from new indigenous forests. Indigena August: 16.
  • Greenaway A, Carswell F 2009. Climate change policy and practice in regional New Zealand: how are actors negotiating science and policy? New Zealand Geographer 65(2): 107–117.
  • Richardson SJ, Peltzer DA, Hurst JM, Allen RB, Bellingham PJ, Carswell FE, Clinton PW, Griffiths AD, Wiser SK, Wright EF 2009. Deadwood in New Zealand's indigenous forests. Forest ecology and management 258(11): 2456-2466.
  • Carswell FE, Greenaway AJ, Harmsworth GR, Jollands N, Baisden WT 2007. Reducing terrestrial greenhouse gas emissions: a human dimensions contribution. International Journal of Sustainable Development 10(4): 294–318.
  • Mercado L, Lloyd J, Carswell F, Malhi Y, Meir P, Nobre AD 2006. Modelling Amazonian forest eddy covariance data: A comparison of big leaf versus sun/shade models for the C-14 tower at Manaus I. Canopy photosynthesis. Acta amazonica 36(1): 69-82.
  • Richardson SJ, Allen RB, Whitehead D, Carswell FE, Ruscoe WA, Platt KH 2005. Climate and net carbon availability determine temporal patterns of seed production by Nothofagus. Ecology 86(4): 972-981.
  • Carswell F, Frame B, Martin V, Turney I 2003. Exchanging emissions for biodiversity : in pursuit of an integrated solution in New Zealand. Ecological management and restoration 4(2): 85-93.
  • Aislabie J 2001. Oil in Antarctic soils. Soil horizons 6: 11-.
  • Carswell FE, Costa AL, Palheta M, Malhi Y, Meir P, Costa JDR, Ruivo MD, Leal LDM, Costa JMN, Clement RJ, Grace J 2002. Seasonality in CO2 and H2O flux at an eastern Amazonian rain forest. Journal of geophysical research - atmospheres 107(D20): 8076-[8091].
  • Whitehead D, Hall GMJ, Walcroft AS, Brown KJ, Landsberg JJ, Tissue DT, Turnbull MH, Griffin KL, Schuster WSF, Carswell FE, Trotter CM, James IL, Norton DA 2002. Analysis of the growth of rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum) in South Westland, New Zealand, using process-based simulation models. International journal of biometeorology 46: 66-75.
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