Fear One Billion Trees programme could go up in smoke, literally

The Government is being urged to consider carefully where it plants trees for its One Billion Trees programme.

It comes as uncontained wildfires tear through Australia at an unprecedented rate, with conditions expected to worsen.

Scientists are now warning if care isn't taken on deciding where to plant the 1 billion trees, we might one day experience a similar disaster.

Lincoln University ecology lecturer Tim Curran says planning to minimise fire hazards needs to be considered.

"Planting a lot of these trees across the landscape will change the amount, the continuity and the flammability of fuel loads across the country," he told Newshub.

Curran says we have a lot of plants that are highly flammable.

"Species like gorse, marram grass, any of our pines - these are changing fire regimes, they're changing the pattern of fires across the landscape and through time." 

One solution could be to plant "green firebreaks, strips of low flammability species, across the landscape to reduce or halt fire spread" he said.

"While it is clear that we need a national revegetation programme in New Zealand to help solve a host of environmental problems, we need to be very careful in our planning of the One Billion Trees programme to best minimise fire hazard."

Meanwhile, people in central Otago are being urged to check the weather before lighting a fire. Fire and Emergency is reminding people to be alert as land dries up and the weather gets warmer.

Deputy principal rural fire officer Bobby Lamont says some times are worse than others.

"Mid to late afternoons we're getting some increased winds," he told Newshub, which makes unintended ignition more likely.

He says to water down fires before leaving them.

"If you can see there are forecast winds... it's probably best not to light. Or if you do light it, you've just got to be really proactive and make sure 100 percent that fire is out and the water has penetrated the soil." 

A renewed warning has been also issued for asthma sufferers here and in Australia.

"If you have a respiratory condition, you should ensure that you keep your medication with you at all times," Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ chief executive Letitia Harding said on Tuesday. "It's also a good time to remember that medication does expire, and so you should ensure that your inhalers are up to date in case you need them."