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Eye on those billion trees

Opinion Piece

We are looking at massive incentives for forestry in the coming years. Doing the maths for The Billion Trees Project: two million hectares of land will be required at 500 trees per hectare. It will be hill country pasture land that will be planted, because environmentally it will be unacceptable to cut scrub for pines as we did under the 1990s East Coast Forestry Project (ECFP). This will cover almost 40 percent of the country’s hill country sheep and beef farms.

Despite optimistic forecasts of big increases in regional employment at the time of the ECFP, the reality in our area has been a 30 percent decrease from employment levels under farming. This has been due to whole-log exports and out-of-district forestry crews doing much of the silviculture and logging.

Farming can be profitable, and is a proven employer on the land and in service towns.

Shane Jones should promote erosion planting. Nationally we have 5 million ha of hill country farms: at 50 poles per ha, Mr Jones gets a quarter of the way to his target without destroying our hill country communities. Perhaps we could encourage keen young farming families to take over farmland that is currently not performing, as we did in the past.

Dave Read & Judy Bogaard, Wairoa