Government short on land for 1 billion trees promise

The Government is scrambling to find enough land to meet its target of reaching 1 billion trees in 10 years.

The Labour/New Zealand First coalition committed to the target, which would require a doubling of the 50 million trees already being planted annually - 270,000 a day on average, or 100 million a year.

But Forestry Minister Shane Jones told The AM Show his team is facing a "real challenge" finding the space.

"The Government in this context is not going to go into the business of buying land.

"There is a lot of land out there - [but] the farmers are leery [and] the Māori often find it difficult to agree, as you're seeing in Waitangi."

The Government will only boost the current 50 million trees bring planted annually by 10 percent this year, Mr Jones says. That would bring the total to 55 million - well short of the target.

"It's not realistic to say it can be done exclusively by the Government," Mr Jones says, adding it was "always a target for the industry".

"Seventy percent of the forestry sector is already owned by foreigners.

"With the right sort of incentives and improvements to the Emissions Trading Scheme they're telling me they can boost their contribution.

"With the billion-dollar fund dedicated to forestry, mark my words, I've got officials finally realising they have to surplus land to avoid them becoming redundant.

"The state can't do it alone… it's about $8000 a hectare to buy land so I don't have the necessary money to scream around buying the land."

"But I'm assured by the officials they will go out and find the necessary blocks of land. It's going to ramp up."