An innovative high-tech approach to forestry management could transform New Zealand’s forestry industry, Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.
Forestry Minister Shane Jones says the funding will make their whenua more productive through the planting of forests, both native and exotic, and improve economic and environmental outcomes.
“Around 1.5 million ha of land in New Zealand is in Māori ownership but large tracts are returning little direct commercial value to Māori landowners, nor much in the way of positive climate, soil, water or biodiversity outcomes,” said Jones.
“About 500,000ha of Māori-owned land are already in some form of forest cover and a further 200,000ha is potentially suitable for afforestation, but it does present unique challenges for owners who might be considering forestry ventures and for potential investors.
“This funding through One Billion Trees (1BT), will help provide support and advice to help Māori landowners build confidence, skills and knowledge about forestry, as well as increase investor confidence to partner with Māori,” said Jones.
A material aim of the work will be the conversion of 20,000ha of Māori-owned land to forestry ventures (commercial exotic, carbon or native).
“It is estimated that this will deliver between $25m and $40m in increased earnings, 120 direct and 200 indirect jobs, 7.6m tonnes of carbon sequestered and improvement in soil erosion rates and water quality,” said Jones.
The work will be led by Te Kapunga Dewes, a Māori leader in the forestry sector and recent chief executive of PF Olsen.