Lobby group calls for pause on blanket forestry

Friday 31 May 2019

The New Zealand Government needs to hit the pause button on policies which have led to thousands of hectares of hill country farmland being converted to blanket forestry in the last year, a newly-formed lobby group says. 50 Shades of Green spokesman Mike Butterick said significant land use change was happening and its speed and scale had caught everyone by surprise.

"It has snowballed so quickly that we need to hit the pause button and ask whether this is what we intended to happen. We are not against dealing with climate change, just the way we get there. Blanket forestry is only a 50-year solution to the carbon and climate change problem."

The group, which has gathered supporters from around New Zealand since forming about two weeks ago, plans to march on Parliament with its concerns. It said Government incentives to plant trees, to offset greenhouse gas emissions and meet reduction targets, were tilting the market too far in favour of both domestic and overseas forestry investors.

"We are not anti-tree, but it is all about moderation and having the right tree in the right place," Butterick said, who is a Wairarapa sheep and beef farmer. "We are some of the most efficient food producers in the world and the social, economic and environmental consequences of blanket forestry are significant."

Seven Wairarapa and Tararua farms have been sold in the last few months to be planted in trees. Farmland sales to forestry totaled about 10,000 hectares in Wairarapa and 6000 to 8000ha in the Pongaroa area of Tararua. At Wairoa, south of Gisborne, about 10,000ha had been purchased, 7 per cent of the district's pastoral land.

Three factors were believed to be skewing the market when hill country farmland came up for sale: grants available under the Government's one billion trees programme, Emissions Trading Scheme carbon credit income and the less stringent criteria overseas buyers must meet when investing in forestry versus farmland. More >>

Source: Stuff

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