Billions more trees for carbon neutrality

Wednesday 16 Jan 2019

New Zealand needs to plant a ridiculously large number of trees and Shane Jones' one billion tree plan is only a fraction of what is required.

According to a report released by the Productivity Commission in August, New Zealand won't be carbon neutral by 2050 without a massive increase in forestry planting to offset the carbon being produced.

The commission's models required the planting rate to double, from 50,000 hectares to 100,000ha per year and the length of the programme to triple from 10 to 30 years.

More than 3 million hectares of land had been marked as potentially suitable for forestry in a Ministry for Primary Industries map, including the likes of the Wither Hills Farm Park, in Blenheim, a council-owned recreational reserve and pastoral farm.

But Marlborough District Council environmental science and monitoring manager Alan Johnson said planting commercial forestry was not in the region's strategic plan.

He said the model going forward for the farm park was an allowance for recreation, pastoral farming and erosion protection.

"Those plans are always subject to public consultation," Johnson said. "That's coming up for review in the next two years."

The dry, tussock-covered hills of southern Marlborough were once forested with kahikatea and cabbage tree in the wetlands, matai and totara in the dryer areas and at higher elevations New Zealand beech.

"People have different values, so it's unlikely to get back to full indigenous," Johnson said.

"You will never see the Wither Hills go into a full treed state. At least not in our lifetime."

Johnson said he would like to see more trees, but that it was a matter of the right tree in the right place.

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