Oram: NZ needs a forestry strategy

Wednesday 10 Oct 2018

Rod Oram: Why we need a real forestry strategy - Rod Oram argues we urgently need a true multi- generational and overarching forestry policy that creates sustainable carbon sinks and replacements for concrete and steel.

We’re an odd country when it comes to trees. We have a lot of them but no overarching long-term policy for them. Consequently, our short-term forestry decisions deliver some adverse outcomes, both economic and environmental.

And on our current course it’s going to get worse. We’re racing to plant one billion trees in a decade to help us meet our climate commitments (as last week’s column discussed), develop regional economies, reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance biodiversity such as helping to save native birds from extinction.

Trees could do all of that for us. But only if they can flourish in healthy ecosystems. To do so, they need all the help we can give them over three or four human generations. Instead, we’re working in silos over just a decade or two, the longest time most commercial enterprises can wait for an investment to pay off.

Meanwhile, many other countries have overarching, inter-generational policies enabling them to nurture their forests long term while deriving economic benefits from them along the way.

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Click here to read the full article >>

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In summary - There are a few pioneers in enlightened forestry, one of which is NZ Carbon Farming. It is growing some 32,000 ha of radiata pine, not to harvest but to store carbon fast and then over the decades they manage the plantations, so they regenerate naturally into native forests. Its submission to the Productivity Commission tells more.

Likewise, there are some pioneers in high value processing, products and materials. One example is the surge of manuka plantings for honey and oils. This illustrates the potential of native species and the benefits of scale which have greatly increased the number of seedlings available and dramatically reduced their cost. But we really need urgently is a true multi-generational, overarching forestry policy of the type that benefits many other nations today and had greatly benefited us in the past. Thankfully, the NZ Institute of Forestry has been documenting the principles of one since 2014, which it presented to the Government in May.

While such a policy would take some time to achieve, the Government and business should use the Institute’s policy principles to guide their strategies in the meantime. If they don’t, our forestry future will be merely an extension of our damaging, degraded and devalued past, planted very large.

This is the latest in a series of Rod Oram’s columns examining key sectors in the Productivity Commission’s final report on New Zealand’s transition to a low-emissions economy.

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Click here for a copy of the NZIF policy >>

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Source: Newsroom






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