Calling for more trees

New Zealand has been told we need to plant more trees. Report author, Dr. David Hall is calling for a smorgasbord of funding options, and Ecosystem Services Trading is up there on the list. 

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Hagley Park, Christchurch City, by Jemma Penelope

If New Zealand to meet international obligations, and secure our competitive economy, we need a greener economy.After the forestry boom days of the 1980’s and 90’s, too many plantation trees have been cut down without being replanted and we need to turn our tree statistics around.

Our Forest Future

The call to plant has come from the  “Our Forest Future” report, released this month by Pure Advantage. Their earlier publication, “New Zealand’s Position in the Green Economy”, makes for good reading too.

Pure Advantage is a New Zealand non-profit built by some of our greatest minds. They have the great Stephen Tindall and his foundation behind them too.

Comprised of business leaders who believe the private sector has an important role to play in creating a greener, wealthier New Zealand, Pure Advantage is a not-for-profit that investigates and promotes opportunities for green growth.”

 

But, back to the trees. We need to plant 1.3 Million Hectares of them. (For reference, our main islands have 26.5 Million Hectares together, so we need to plant 5% of our landmass).

The Our Forest Futures report has been popular – it shows it’s come at a time when New Zealand is ready to hear about these things.

The New Zealand Forest Owners Association is right behind the move, saying less plantations and less planting is hurting our economy through the forestry sector too.

In Christchurch, The Avon-Otakaro  Network, The Avon-Otakaro Forest Park and Greening the Red Zone picked up on the report’s recognition of Christchurch. Our city’s legacy of trees is already providing $19.2 million in health benefits, and these three groups want to see that as just a stepping stone. They want to see the replanting of the Earthquake Red Zone in trees to help the Our Forest Futures’ tree-planting goal.

Dr. David Hall: ‘smorgasbord approach’

This week, Our Forest Future’s author, Dr. David Hall, talked about the need for a “Smorgasbord Approach” to meet these goals.

Put on the table as many different funding sources and revenue streams we can think of…

He points out that the scale of the challenge is so very large. He also recognises that this tree-planting solution must, by necessity, involve private land. He describes how New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme might have a part to play in making this happen. He’s careful enough to say that the ETS won’t be the only solution, just one of many, hence the ‘smorgasbord’ idea.

What about Offset Banking? It would tick all Dr. Hall’s boxes, too:

  • Alternative revenue stream
  • Give landowners a choice of ways to participate
  • Focus on getting private land planted
  • Incorporates a trading structure to provide funding.

As I wrote in Our Forest Future, “Ask not what forest can do for the ETS, but what the ETS can do for forest!”

Yes, Offsetting involves a degree of damage, but if we required 3 trees to be planted for each 1 destroyed, we’d be making concrete progress towards our 1.3 Million Hectare goal.

And just like Emissions Trading, there’s a right and wrong way to do it. Dr. Hall talks about the improvements that are needed to get the ETS to work for New Zealand, not against us. There is plenty New Zealand needs to do regarding Offsetting currently to make that work for us too. But the groundwork is there for us to improve upon, for both schemes.

I sincerely want to plant more trees in New Zealand. I want to see my Christchurch City Red Zone planted up and contributing to a greener economy. What I want the most of all, is to see stronger options like Offset Banking and other trading schemes there to help plant trees too.

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