One billion tree target will take 'huge commitment'

A forestry executive says while a Government target of planting 1 billion trees in 10 years is "doable", it's going to take a huge commitment.

The Labour/New Zealand First coalition has committed to the target, which will cost nearly $2 billion and will require on average 270,000 trees planted each day.

Newly-appointed Minister for Trees Shane Jones will oversee the forestry plans, which, if successful, will double the current planting rate of 50 million trees annually.

Forest Owners Association CEO David Rhodes told The AM Show on Thursday it's been done before, and can be done again.

"But it's going to take commitment… we would expect and we would hope that [the Government] is going to try and enlist a private sector investor here because the Government trying to do it by themselves isn't a clever idea.

"There have been several years where we've done this in a period through the 90s where we actually got close to 100,000 hectares on an annual basis. And if you look at the target at the moment, the Government's talking about roughly 100,000 [hectares] a year.

"If you look back over the last decade we've actually had net deforestation in this country so we can't take replanting for granted.

"We've lost a lot of forest and it's just an incredible situation and in a country like New Zealand, so reliant on trees for carbon and so good at forestry, that we've actually gone backwards. So no - I don't think it is double counting."

Mr Rhodes predicts the target could double the amount of jobs in the sector.

"It's pretty stretched as it is at the moment. In the regions we could be talking hundreds [of new jobs]."

But the real challenge will be changing the mindset of the forestry industry, Mr Rhodes says.

"It's not just new planting, but sending the right signals to the current investors that it's worth getting back into the game."

He says after up to a two-year lag period to get nurseries up and running and manual labour in place, it will gear up.

"We'll get there but it's not going to happen overnight."


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