Systems Thinking in the Forestry Value Chain – A Case Study of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme

Tom Adams, Robert Y Cavana


As part of New Zealand’s obligations to the Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand has developed an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) as a mechanism to reduce its national greenhouse gas footprint, and to encourage and support global action on climate change. The forestry sector in New Zealand was the first sector to enter the ETS, effective from 1 January 2008. So far forest owners in New Zealand have been slow to join the scheme. To investigate this situation further, a systems thinking group model building workshop was held to discuss the effects of the ETS on the New Zealand forestry value chain. A qualitative system dynamics analysis was undertaken, whereby a range of relevant issues were generated by a group of stakeholders, and based on these a set of causal variables were identified. These showed a strong bias towards an economic viewpoint of the basic issue being examined. Causal loop diagrams were made from these variables, and the dominant loops were briefly analysed. This paper will discuss some of the insights gained from the project to date.


climate change, emissions trading, systems thinking, causal loop, CLD, forestry

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