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Radical Change In Thinking Required To Meet Ambitious Native Forest Targets

Pure Advantage and Tāne’s Tree Trust are calling for a major shift in thinking and practice regarding native forests if New Zealand is to meet its climate change targets.

In January the Climate Change Commission proposed 300,000 hectares of new native forests be established by 2035 to provide effective carbon sinks over the next century.

However, while Pure Advantage and Tane’s Tree Trust are in support of the Commission's draft advice, they are calling for greater ambition - and an urgent change to the way native forests are planted, managed and valued. The two organisations have joined forces in a major programme called O Tātou Ngāhere to address this important gap in New Zealand’s climate change and biodiversity plans.

Sir Stephen Tindall, Pure Advantage trustee, says: “We congratulate the Climate Change Commission on its draft recommendation of 300,000 hectares of native forest by 2035. However we think New Zealand can be more ambitious.

“We think 350,000 is doable under the current settings and that the ‘moonshot’, with the right changes to regulations, management practices and incentives, is between 1 million and 2 million hectares of new permanent native forest cover.

“Successfully achieving this would reduce our current carbon footprint and add numerous other commercial and biodiversity benefits.”

But to deliver those numbers a major shift in policy and practice is required.

“We need a revolution in the way we think and act regarding native forests,” says Sir Stephen. “We must find ways to engage young people and encourage private land-owners to plant and regenerate native trees – on farms, on marginal land, on lifestyle blocks, through civic partnerships and in our urban environments.

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“In the process we’ll unlock a myriad of new opportunities and benefits, from sustainable tourism and timber harvesting, to restoring the mauri of our land and replenishing our biodiversity. This program of work is about integrating native forest into our whenua for the benefit of all."

The O Tātou Ngāhere report is delivered as a suite of 37 articles by New Zealand and global experts via an interactive website as well as a short documentary available now at Pure Advantage and soon hosted on TVNZ On Demand.

The comprehensive program of work calls for a wide range of changes to native forest management, including:

  • A fundamental shift in valuing native forests for their holistic impact, including biodiversity, long-term carbon sequestration, amenity, spiritual and cultural values
  • Biodiversity credits to reward land-owners for planting and growing native trees (currently excluded from the Emissions Trading Scheme)
  • Continuous cover forestry – a change in forestry practice that replaces more intensive silvicultural practice such as clear felling with closer-to-nature practices and selective harvesting in the future
  • Sustainable harvesting of native timber for high-quality timber products and veneers, as well as outlets for lower grades in manufacturing and construction
  • Downstream, commercial uses for New Zealand hardwoods such as beech and tawa in joinery and furniture
  • Expanding ‘non-timber’ uses of forestry such as honey, bioactives and touris
  • Co-mingling of natives with exotic species to create transitionary forests and greater biodiverse habitat
  • Encouragement of collaborations and joint ventures between private land-owners, iwi, civic organisations and government to plant and manage native forests.

Tane’s Tree Trust chairman, Peter Berg, says the predominance of pine in New Zealand forestry needs to be reconsidered.

“Pinus radiata is a spectacular tree for many reasons; it has served New Zealand extremely well and made a massive contribution to our economy, but we should not limit our thinking to plantation forestry in every situation nor have it the only tree that we plant at scale. We need to see the same level of research, investment and interest in other species including New Zealand natives – and the rewards will follow.

“This report sets out some bold thinking about what needs to be done if we are to unlock the full potential of New Zealand’s native forests – for commercial, cultural and spiritual benefit,” says Peter Berg.

About the report

O Tātou Ngāhere (Our Forest) is a joint venture between Pure Advantage and Tane’s Tree Trust, both privately funded organisations established to promote sustainable development.

The report includes contributions from New Zealand’s leading thinkers, scientists and practitioners in the forestry sector, including:

  • Dr. Mark Kimberley
  • Dr. David Bergin
  • Sheridan Ashford
  • Nathalie Whitaker
  • Dr. Jacqui Aimers
  • Kevin Prime
  • Prof. David Norton
  • Dame Anne Salmond
  • Prof. Warwick Silvester
  • Abbie Reynolds
  • Prof. Bruce Burns
  • Annabell Chartres
  • Dr. Margaret Stanley
  • Dr. Priscilla Wehi
  • Erana Walker
  • Dr. Adam Forbes
  • Dr David Hall
  • Paul Quinlan
  • Dr. John Foppert (USA)
  • Meg Graham and more.

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