Farm foresters welcome new target

Wednesday 8 Nov 2017

Foresters welcome Government's ambitious tree-planting target. Farm foresters have joined forest owners and timber processors in welcoming the new Coalition Government's plans to revitalise forestry as a shot in the arm for the industry.

The New Zealand Farm Forestry Association believes the Government's commitment to plant one billion trees over the next 10 years is an achievable target and that farm foresters have a role to play.

But association president Neil Cullen says this ambitious target presents a number of challenges - sourcing enough seedlings, having enough people in the right areas to plant trees and finding enough suitable land.

"New Zealand needs to reverse its growing greenhouse gas emission status, it needs to plant more trees than are harvested for a growing industry and it needs to cloak eroding hill country in trees," Cullen said.

He said New Zealand's total forest estate had shrunk in recent years, so the Government's commitment to plant more trees was encouraging for the industry, especially for processors who were concerned about sourcing logs in future.

"It will give them some confidence to invest in mills and infrastructure and gives the whole industry a boost," he said.

However, it would take nurseries a while to gear up.

"Nurseries have just planted their crop for next winter, so there won't be anything like that number available for the next planting season, but they have got the capacity to increase seedling numbers significantly.

"The problem will be getting the people to plant them, I think," he said.

Cullen believed the Government may have to look at planting trees on Crown or Maori-owned land in the first few years to meet its planting targets.

"We only have a broad sketch of what they are intending. We don't know the details yet and what incentives they are going to use to get people to plant those trees."

Forestry was a profitable and rewarding land use that was the best option for large areas of New Zealand, he said.

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