NZ’s tree planting timetable gives industry confidence

 
New Zealand’s forest owners say the announcement of the timetable for the government’s billion tree ten-year project will give confidence that the massive afforestation is a serious proposition.

The Forestry Minister Shane Jones announced on Friday in Gisborne that the government programme will see a gradual rise of tree numbers planted out every year as seedlings become available. From 2022 planting will be in full swing at an annual rate of 110,000 hectares a year.

Forest Owners Association President Peter Clark says there are plenty of sceptics who believe that the government will not get to the billion-tree target over ten years. “A billion trees represent 100,000 hectares of plantings per year on average. The effective planting start-up year, with seedlings started off this winter, will be 2019. So, first up, 70,000 hectares represents a good beginning to grow the national forest estate which has been static for nearly 20 years.”

Peter Clark says he predicts the also announced NZ$6.5 million fund for Afforestation Grants will be over subscribed. “At $1,300 per hectare the grant will cover the total planting costs for most landowners who choose to go into it. I would also hope the scheme can be expanded in future years.”

“The scheme applies to forest plots between five and 300 hectares. This could lead to too many isolated woodlots, but if farmers amalgamated their plots it would pay off in reduced harvesting costs.” Peter Clark says he expects the next stage of the billion-tree project will be to provide details of the planned species and geographical mix.

“Millable indigenous species, such as totara and beech are obviously going to be part of the mix, along with others planted to convert grassland into native forestland. But if forest plantings are to help with reducing the pain of meeting our Paris Accord commitments then we will need fast-growing exotics such as radiata pine, Douglas fir and eucalypts. It is never too early to start providing for what will be required to manage, harvest and process large volumes of these tree species.”

“Our industry is also pleased that the government is making the development of infrastructure a priority. Roads in the Tairawhiti region in particular have been in decline and this is not good for anyone using that network, including our industry. Government undertakings to fix these roads as soon as physically possible is vitally good news.”

Source: Forest Owners Association

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