Forestry group backs scheme

The new Government's annual 100,000 tree planting programe could entice farmers back to into...
The new Government's annual 100,000 tree planting programe could entice farmers back to into planting forestry, such as this one at Pukerau. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
The Forest Owners Association has embraced the new Government's proposal to plant 1 billion trees over the next decade, touting not only the benefits for the sector but also a solution to the thorny issue of farmers and their forced contribution to the emission trading scheme.

Earlier this week, both the Forest Owners Association and Wood Council of New Zealand highlighted the crucial need for increased forest planting and architectural use of more wood in construction.

The Government is preparing the breakup the 15-year-old Ministry of Primary Industries, returning it to ministries of forestry, agriculture and fisheries.

Forest Owners Association president Peter Clark said when forestry was under the Ministry of Primary Industries it was not getting the attention an industry should, given it earned $6 billion a year in exports.

The Government has outlined a plan for planting 100,000 trees annually, in an unspecified mix of commercial and native trees, and Shane Jones was this week appointed both Minister of Forestry and Regional Economic Development.

The initial major planting is to be on Crown and Maori land.

Forest Owners Association Peter Clark said the new Government's target of planting an additional 50,000ha each year was ``optimistic but achievable''.

He said for most of the 1990s the new planting rate was more than 50,000ha a year, and in 1994 was 100,000ha ``beyond keeping up with replanting''.

Mr Clark said talks had been held with Mr Jones about ``what can and can't be achieved'' and he was in no doubt about the difficulties of increasing planting, given ``more than a decade of no growth''.

``In particular, we do need to build the labour force to do the planting ... we're struggling to plant enough trees to maintain the present area,'' Mr Clark said.

He hoped, given Mr Jones was also Minister of Regional Development, that would help in promoting a work force.

The Government is proposing farmers be bought into the emission trading scheme, but paying for just 5% of their emissions.

Mr Clark said given the Government wanted practical steps taken on climate change, ``the only practical solution'' was planting more trees to significantly lower carbon emission levels.

Farmers' inclusion to the scheme would also boost forest planting on farms, he said.

``But if the Government gives farmers an option of growing trees to absorb carbon and offset the greenhouse gas emissions from their stock, I'm sure we'll see farmers planting out woodlots with a view to getting a return on eventually harvesting those trees,'' Mr Clark said.


Subs, you need to check the details in this story. The story has the government planting variously:

1) 1 billion trees
2) 100,000 trees annually (which would mean 1 billion trees would take 10,000 years to plant)
3) 50,000 hectares annually (which is 2 trees a hectare if it's 100,000 trees, which seems very low)

The real situation is in there somewhere, but it's not clear what it is...