October 05, 2023
Slash to charcoal plan for Te Tairāwhiti
An environmental economist says indigenous knowledge offers a way to both sort out forestry slash and improve soil condition – and he’s looking for investors to scale up his solution.
Thabiso Mashaba says the process of creating bio-char and putting it in the soil was developed by Amazonian peoples to create some of the world’s most fertile soils, and it’s extensively used in his native Botswana.
He’s working with Eastern Institute of Technology to teach Māori communities in Wairoa and Te Tairāwhiti to carbonise waste wood using large sealed aluminium buckets and 44 gallon drums.
More than 40 people have been trained so far and they have big plans for the future.
“What we have decided to do currently is fund raise – so that we can build three mobile 15-tonne carbonisation kilns. And these will be able to engage about 15 people each. So about 45 people could be put to work,” he says.
Mr Mashaba says the Slash For Cash project has huge potential, and biochar can be used to heal cyclone devastated lands and boost struggling local economies.