ForestX consultant Graham West says “The recent indication that the future of the One Billion Tree fund will be two thirds orientated toward planting native species indicates that the Government has capitulated to anti-commercial forestry sentiment”.
Many miss the broader picture that commercial forestry has been a successful part of the rural landscape for more than 60 years and contributes significantly to regional economies. The NZ Farm Forestry Association has 1,500 members, there are another 10-12,000 small scale forest owners who have directly invested in forestry, and if shareholders of syndicates are counted the number of investors rises to near 100,000.
Commercial forestry does have an image problem and is often only visible when harvesting occurs and logs are being transported on roads, however the climate change imperative remains and the delay in encouraging rapid afforestation with commercial species, simply passes the carbon liability to our children. The native forestry strategy commits more of NZ to becoming effectively slow growing national parks. Commercial trees are not only efficient sequesters of carbon, they are potentially the oil wells of the future and provide materials and energy on a sustainable basis. If we cannot get the public to better understand the big picture and put resources and taxes into the right land use, we pass the legacy of a failed opportunity to the next generation.