Mega forest planned for Whanganui
IN THE WAKE OF THE GOVERNMENT’S PLANS TO PLANT ONE Billion Trees over the next decade comes a proposal for a ‘mega forest’ to be established in the Whanganui region.
Horizons Regional Council has put forward an idea to plant 30 million trees in the region over the next 10 years as part of its Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI).
The SLUI programme has already seen 13.9 million trees planted on erodible land in the region since 2006 and the new proposal will see a significant expansion, aimed at cutting erosion by almost a third by 2043.
To help with the programme, the Regional Council is asking the Government to contribute $12 million, on top of $7 million for the SLUI.
Under the plan, landowners in erosion-prone areas would be asked to volunteer to change their pastoral land to forest, which could either be pruned and harvested in the future, if feasible, or left to grow and store carbon. The initiative will not only prevent erosion, it will also improve water quality and could store as much as 2.7 million tonnes of carbon.
The proposal sees ownership of the trees coming under a partnership between the land owner and central government, with profits shared between them on trees that are harvested. There would also be an opportunity for early returns on trees before they are cut through the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Horizons Regional Council hopes to plant one million trees in this winter, then have more than half of the planned 30 million in the ground within six years.