Forests perform a range of valuable environmental functions, such as sequestering carbon, controlling erosion, and sheltering a diversity of species. Traditional cultures such as the Māori in Aotearoa/New Zealand (NZ) have long seen forests as a source of livelihood. Recent policy innovations in response to environmental issues like climate change are creating markets for environmental services, leading to new opportunities to earn livelihoods from forests. We worked with indigenous Māori landowners in a rural area of NZ to implement a “carbon farming” project—a management system that encourages reforestation and generates marketable offsets for greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. Our experience in establishing a carbon sequestration project sheds light on the factors affecting uptake and project success for other groups seeking to utilize these markets as a tool for sustainable development.
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