No i-deer: Game Animal Council Chair dispels idea deer have negative impact on carbon storage

No i-deer: Game Animal Council Chair dispels idea deer have negative impact on carbon storage

While most people have heard about carbon footprints, climate change, and the Paris Agreement, few truly understand how these global issues affect our daily lives and the management of our natural resources. 

Game animal management, forestry, and carbon storage may seem like unrelated topics. But to Chair of Game Animal Council Grant Dodson is extremely knowledgeable and not only wears a game animal hat but also works in the forestry industry day-to-day, and has a vast comprehension of both sectors.

Dodson told REX host Dominic George that these subjects are intrinsically intertwined and hold significant implications for New Zealand's commitments under the Paris Agreement. 

"We unravelled the historical tar debates and explored its relevance as a commercial and recreational resource," he said, referring to a significant conflict within the hunting sector that his Council helped mediate. 

Dodson also explained some new research that suggests deer have minimal impact on carbon storage and indigenous forests, contrary to common beliefs.

"We got them to look at all the research. What they found out was that there isn't any significant difference in carbon storage of intact native forests to where undulates are present and where they're not present."

A recent report commissioned by the Game Animal Council and undertaken by Crown Research Institute Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research the 'Review of the likely magnitude and manageability of deer impacts on carbon stores in indigenous forests' confirmed this idea.

Co-author of the report and Principal Scientist in Ecosystem Ecology Dr Duane Peltzer echoed Dodson's sentiment when it comes to the impact deer have on carbon storage in forests.

"While potential carbon gains from deer and ungulate management are limited and variable, there is far greater evidence to suggest gains can be achieved in biodiversity, particularly among highly palatable species in the browse tier," he said.

Instead of managing for carbon, Dodson told George the focus should be on managing for biodiversity, stressing the importance that has on maintaining healthy, native forest habitats over a long period.

"By default, they will have in some cases, modest numbers of deer in them and they will be healthy deer because they are living in a healthy environment."

On top of that, he added that the need for a balanced approach to land use, climate change initiatives, and New Zealand's economic needs should not be forgotten.

"Forestry is a product of land use as well. Our biggest industry is dairy, our second biggest industry is meat and then a very close third is forestry.

"We're a productive industry. We're right up there."

Dodson believes it's not just about reducing carbon footprints or managing game animals but about ensuring a balanced and sustainable future for New Zealand and the world.

Listen to the full chat between Grant Dodson and Dominic George above.

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