AGM 2023

Biochar Network New Zealand Chair’s report for the September 6th 2023 AGM 

The wide story

There is a biochar community in NZ that is connected with a wider network of contributors. The Biochar Network New Zealand Inc committee and members are taking on a role as community convenor and representing body for that community as we work together to maximise the positive net impact of biochar for New Zealand.

Our BNNZ network members take on different roles… from connecting people and ideas, research and development, planning change for the better, getting support for that change and making that change happen.

BNNZ has been stoking a growing public awareness of biochar, with growing awareness on the street, and online searches for biochar doubling in New Zealand in the last 4 years. Government and industry are also changing and we’re helping to advise and guide that change.

The BNNZ 2022/2023 Year in Review

It has been my privilege to serve BNNZ alongside the Committee and our members this year, and I have been encouraged to see the dedication from everyone as I took pause, and half a step back from BNNZ duties following the arrival of our firstborn in October 2022.

This year we had the pleasure of welcoming Alan and Joany of The Good Carbon Farm, and we are grateful for their extensive contributions which have helped our BNNZ members and wider biochar networks show and tell the stories of how biochar can and is making a difference for people.

The story telling has served to bolster our presence online with our newsletter, and facebook pages managed by Trevor, and ever-improving website managed by Phil. These are also complemented by our Youtube channel and LinkedIn page. Our online presence is of course complementary to our physical presence where we’ve been building relationships at Fieldays and various workshops and conferences across the country, including a recent demonstration at Lake Pukaki which also doubled as a fundraiser for BNNZ, thanks to the team there.

I’ve been heartened to participate in or hear recollections of members of the public, researchers, local and central government and various industry bodies actively consider how biochar will fit into the world they have, and the world they are busy creating.

Conversations with officials were prompted by BNNZ members’ submissions to the Wood Processing Industry Transformation Plan, and subsequent thought leadership from our Committee in the form of a ‘Carbon Rescue’ article outlining recommendations for a biochar-enabled recovery and renovation following the extreme weather earlier this year. The aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle highlighted that there may be opportunity to make biochar at scale, but actually scaling up operations quickly is challenging, and would require funding for public good to address wood residue risks at the top of the hill before they become a problem at the bottom of the hill. As we work to sink 7.5 million tonnes of CO2(eq) with biochar in New Zealand by 2030, further work will be needed to ensure the investments in biochar production stack up and leave a positive intergenerational legacy.

We also welcomed our first new BNNZ members via our formalised relationship with ANZBIG following signing of our joint MOU. This has lead to a strengthened relationship with our Australian colleagues, and more funding coming available for investment in priority work in NZ.
BNNZ continues to be the group for biochar for New Zealand, and it’s encouraging to see BNNZ being approached regularly for advice on biochar. One such example was a collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science advisor regarding the use of residual organic resources from our food supply chains across NZ. 

We also hear news from our members that there is an increasing investment of co-funding of public and private funding for research focused on specific use cases. I am happy to celebrate the wins, and expect that trend to continue.

Going forward, a key piece of work that we will ask you to be involved in will be supporting research that will develop pathways for biochar to be recognised and included in our national greenhouse gas inventory, and subsequently a future version of our domestic emissions trading scheme. With potential to directly sequester 1 million tonnes of CO2(eq) each year via biochar using only residues, our country stands to gain much with biochar from a climate perspective, and much more when considering its other benefits.

A big thank you to our 2022/2023 Committee and supporters for their contributions to our biochar community this year.

A special mention goes to Dennis Enright who has recently stepped back from Committee work. Dennis was a founding BNNZ member and has been a committee member ever since. In that time he has been an avid and consistent supporter of biochar and the biochar community in New Zealand, and more recently as NZ representative on the ANZBIG Board. His humour, generosity and just wanting to get some s#!t done has been invaluable.

Warrick Isaachsen

Committee members elected or re-elected: 

Trevor Richards, Ben Elms, Phil Stevens, Simon Day, James McNally, Warrick Isaachsen, John McDonald-Wharry, Andrew Finlayson, Pranoy Pal

Positions elected:

Chairperson: Warrick Isaachsen    
Deputy Chair: Phil Stevens         
Secretary: Trevor Richards
Treasurer: Ben Elms 

© 2024 Biochar Network NZ

BNNZ acknowledges the generous support of Soil Conditioner Products Ltd, NZ Biochar Ltd, Black Moa Biochar, and Slow Farm Ltd