Mega for­est planned for Whanganui

New Zealand Logger - - Forest Talk -

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.

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