Marlborough: Invest to change forest use?

Wednesday 29 Jul 2020

Plans to turn forestry blocks into eco-friendly alternatives gets support - New feasibility study into ‘land transition fund’ could see pine plantation blocks converted into homestays, carbon farms or bike and walk trails.

Unwanted pine forests could be turned into “boutique” nature blocks to stop dirt clogging seabeds, if a new study gets funding.

In a “landmark” move, marine farmers, forestry harvesters and Marlborough Sounds residents have asked for a feasibility study into a ‘land transition fund’ that would allow landowners to convert their plantations into more eco-friendly alternatives.

Scientific papers released over the decades have proven harvesting blocks in the Marlborough Sounds causes sediment to wash down steep slopes into coastal water, effecting its quality.

The study was first put forward by the Sounds Advisory Group at the Marlborough District Council's annual plan submission hearings last year, but deferred onto a committee for discussion.

Group member Eric Jorgensen told councillors last week the fund would incentivise the retirement of erosion-prone slopes and the creation of catchment buffers in an “equitable and just way”.

“It is both innovative and seeks to ensure no party is unjustly penalised when dealing with this issue,” a report he headed said.

Conifers had long been an issue in the region since the 1970s and 1980s, when the Government paid landowners to plant the trees.

Potential alternatives, which had yet to be explored, could include carbon farming, honey production, bike or walk trails, tourism, scientific studies, boutique nature lifestyle blocks or homestays.

Setting up the fund would require a “significant” investment. If set up, the land fund would complement rules already in place under the council's Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan.

The plan said the council would look at ways landowners could convert their wilding pine blocks to alternative forestry species or land use blocks, and consider providing incentives to switch.

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Source: Stuff news

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