Inventory practice: New Zealand’s agriculture inventory advisory panel

Sadie S

Keywords: Expert review | commissioned reviews | continuous improvement | institutional arrangements

Country context: Grassland-based animal husbandry makes major contributions to New Zealand’s economy. The country’s GHG inventory has used a Tier 2 approach for cattle, small ruminants and deer since the early 1990s. Since then, New Zealand’s Tier 2 livestock inventory has undergone three major stages of development (see Country Inventory Case Study: New Zealand). The inventory has maintained its current structure since 2009, and within that structure, improvements in emission estimates continue to be made. The Agricultural Inventory Advisory Panel plays a key role in the continuous improvement process.

Institutional arrangements: The Climate Change Response Act 2002 names the Ministry for the Environment as the agency in New Zealand responsible for compilation of the national GHG inventory. The MoE calculates estimates of emissions for the solvent and other product use sector, waste sector, emissions and removals from the LULUCF sector, and coordinates inputs from other sectors. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI, formerly Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) compiles the agriculture sector inventory. This is supported by research conducted by public research institutes and universities. In 2009, MPI established an advisory panel that meets annually to deliberate on and recommend improvements to the agricultural inventory. The panel assesses peer-reviewed reports and papers providing evidence for proposed changes to the inventory, and advises whether the proposed changes are scientifically robust and meet the reporting guidelines. The panel advises MPI of its recommendations, and MPI must approve the recommendations before the recommendations can be implemented in the national inventory calculations. Hence, the role of the panel is advisory.

The panel is made up of representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry for the Environment, and science representatives from the Royal Society of New Zealand, the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, and experts on methane emissions (from New Zealand Methanet) and nitrous oxide emissions (from New Zealand N2Onet), which are groups of national experts in the areas of agricultural inventory methane and inventory nitrous oxide emissions respectively.

Based on key information needs identified by the panel and MPI, the ministry commissions reviews and other analysis to inform decisions about inventory improvements. The reviews and analysis are presented to the panel in the form of reports or papers. Each report or paper includes specific recommendations for changes to the inventory and/or further needs for research and analysis, as well as the supporting evidence for these recommendations. The papers are peer-reviewed by the panel members, who submit review reports. The MPI then prepares a briefing paper, which summarizes the main findings of the report and the peer-reviews, and sets out the recommendations to be noted, discussed or decided during the annual meeting of the panel. The panel assesses if the proposed changes have been rigorously assessed and if there is sufficient scientific evidence to support the recommendations made. Recommendations are decided by voting. If a panel member was involved in conducting the commissioned study, they are recused from voting. The minutes of the meeting and the recommendations made are recorded and posted along with the panel briefings and other reports on the MPI website.

The reports commissioned by MPI mostly involve review of available data, including published scientific journal articles, as well as unpublished data from research and industry sources. In some cases, commissioned reports also involve the collection of new primary data, for example where suitable data is unavailable. Topics deliberated by the advisory panel in recent years have included:

  • Recommendations for calculating national dairy sector emissions on the basis of regional estimates;
  • Revisions to ewe and beef cow live weight estimates (see Inventory Practice: Improving estimates of cattle live weight in New Zealand);
  • Revised methodologies for calculating N2O emission factors;
  • Revised equations for methane emissions from anaerobic effluent ponds;
  • Revisions to parameters used in the inventory for emissions from deer populations;
  • Revised uncertainty estimates; and
  • Revisions to the livestock population model used in the inventory.

Further Resources

MPI Agricultural Inventory Advisory Panel

Author: Andreas Wilkes, Values for development Ltd (2019)